Key commitments to borroweres who are private individuals
Affiniti Finance Limited will:
- act fairly, reasonably and responsibly in all of its dealings with you;
- make sure that all services and products meet the requirements of this Code;
- make sure that all services and products meet all the relevant laws and regulations, including the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (and all regulations made under it) and the Equality Act 2010;
- have regard to relevant Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) guidance;
- not discriminate against you because of your race, sex, disability, ethnic background or sexuality;
- help you when you need information and guidance, including explaining how the product(s) will affect your finances;
- act honestly and try to make sure that all other suppliers of goods and services we do business with do the same;
- not pressurize you to enter into any agreement with us and try to make sure that all other suppliers of goods and services we do business with do not pressurize you;
- correct mistakes, handle complaints quickly and sympathetically and tell you how to take a complaint forward if you are still not satisfied;
- co-operate with regulators (such as the FCA) and organisations that handle complaints (such as the Financial Ombudsman Service);
- consider cases of financial difficulty sympathetically and positively;
- treat all your personal information as private and confidential, and run secure and reliable systems;
- train our staff to make sure that the procedures they follow reflect the commitments set out in this Code; and
- publicise the Code and make copies freely and readily available to you.
Before you take out a loan
Before you take out a loan, you will receive:
- information in writing on key features of the loan including:
- the written terms and conditions of your agreement;
- the cost of the loan;
- the interest rate that will apply;
- details of when you will have to pay interest;
- details of any extra fees and charges you may have to pay, including default charges (charges applied if you pay late), and how we will tell you the amount;
- information on your rights; and
- the opportunity to read and consider the information above.
Once you have taken out a loan
When you become a customer, and whenever you ask us, we will give you the information above, plus details of how to complain if things go wrong. We will also give you a full explanation of how we work out interest and fees if you ask us.
We will tell you what our charges are for the product(s) before or at the time we provide that product and at any time you ask.
You can also find out information on interest rates and charges by contacting us in the usual way.
All agreements will set out your rights and responsibilities clearly and in plain language and all our communications with you will also be in plain language.
Settling your loan early
Whenever you ask, we will explain how you may settle your loan early and how we work out the amount you will pay us. If you would like to know more about settling your loan early or the amount you will have to pay, you should contact us first. Also, if you ask for a settlement statement, we will provide this as soon as possible and free of charge.
Changes to terms and conditions (other than interest rates)
Sometimes we may change our terms and conditions, but only if your agreement with us allows us to do so. We will let you know how and when we will tell you about these changes.
- If the change is to your advantage (for example, if we remove a fee), we may make the change before telling you. We will also notify you of the change within 30 days.
- If the change is to your disadvantage, we will always give you at least 30 days’ notice before making the change. This may be by, for example, information on our website and will be appropriate for the way in which we provide loans.
If we have made a major change or a lot of minor changes in any one year, we will give you a summary of the changes and make available a full copy of the new terms and conditions.
The way we market our services
From time to time, we may tell you about other services and products which may interest you. However, we will do this only if we are allowed to do so by law. We will also act responsibly and carefully and will be selective about sending you details of services and products. If we send you unsolicited promotional e-mails you will be able to “unsubscribe” from receiving these offers by e-mail.
If we send you information about our services, we will remind you, at least once every three years that you can ask us not to send you this information. This is on top of your rights under the Data Protection Act 1998.
You may say that you do not want us to send you any of the information above. We will tell you how to do this in our documents and will respond to your requests.
We will not knowingly send marketing material about our loans to you if you are under 18.
We will make sure that all advertising and promotional material is clear, fair and not misleading.
All our advertising and promotional material will comply with relevant advertising legislation and industry codes of practice such as the Consumer Credit (Advertisement) Regulations 2010 and the Committee of Advertising Practice Codes. You can get copies of these codes from the contacts listed in “Helpful Information” of this Code.
Publicising this Code
Whenever you ask, we will confirm that we follow this Code of Conduct, copies of which are freely available.
Lending you money
We will make sure that all loan applications go through a sound and proper credit assessment.
We will give you enough information to allow you to make informed decisions about the loan offered to you.
If we refuse your loan application, we will give you, if you ask, the main reason why you have not met our lending conditions. You will have a right to ask us to review our decision. We will tell you whom to contact if you want us to review our decision.
When you apply for your loan, we will tell you what information we need from you to check your identity and address (for example, a passport or driving licence). This may include checking the electoral register. This is important for your security and in some circumstances may be necessary by law.
We will take particular care if you are suffering from health problms, including mental health difficulties, when we are made aware of this.
- appropriately training staff to handle accounts, including those dealing with complaints and collecting debts for us; and
- being sensitive to your condition and responding appropriately when dealing with you or someone authorised to act on your behalf.
In order to do this we may need to ask for appropriate evidence of your health problem and may need your permission to record this information on our system.
We issue a quarterly statement to all borrowers but if you ask us, we will provide you with an additional statement upon request.
If your statement has an entry which seems to be wrong, you should tell us as soon as possible so we can sort it out.
Difficulties in paying
In the event that the loan made to you becomes repayable immediately (as provided for in the loan agreement e.g. you have triggered an event of default which you have failed to remedy) the following provisions will apply:
If you fall behind with your payments, we will let you know the options available to you.
We will deal with cases of financial difficulty (if you cannot afford to repay your loan) sympathetically and positively, and do what we can to help you deal with what you owe. This may include making new arrangements about how you will pay off your debt. In doing so we will consider other debts that you owe.
We may also contact you if we think you may be at risk of payment problems to consider possible ways to help you, taking into account your circumstances.
If you are in breach of our loan agreement and as a result the full amount of the loan and interest/fees are repayable, and you are unable to repay us on the due date, we will be guided in our conduct by the guidelines set out in the Appendix to this document.
We are committed to providing you with the best possible service. Although the majority of our customers are happy with the service they receive, every year a small percentage will contact us with complaints.
We value our customers extremely highly and take all customer complaints seriously. When a complaint is received we will always aim to investigate it quickly in order to identify the root cause, prevent any reoccurrence and, wherever possible, resolve the complaint to the customer’s satisfaction. We will always apologise for mistakes or instances where customer service did not meet our high standards.
If you are not satisfied with the service you have received from us, we would like the chance to put it right. Our internal complaints handling procedures are in place to deal with your concerns when things go wrong. There is no charge for raising a complaint.
Please send us a description of your complaint and how you think we can resolve it, and any other relevant information.
You can contact us:
by writing to our Complaints Manager, N Shapland
by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
by telephone on 01483 662587
If your complaint has not been resolved by close of business the day after we receive it, we will write to you, either to acknowledge receipt of your complaint or to respond on the matters you have raised, within five working days of receiving your complaint.
Whilst your complaint is being investigated, you will receive regular updates on the progress of the investigation, both by telephone and in writing.
We will aim to resolve your complaint at the earliest opportunity. If we are unable to resolve it within eight weeks of receipt, we will write to you explaining the reasons for the delay and give you an indication of when we expect to be able to provide a resolution. At this point if you are unhappy with the progress, you may refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
If you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint, you can refer to the Financial Ombudsman Service. You must contact them within six months of the date of our final response letter to you.
They can be contacted in the following ways:
by writing to: Financial Ombudsman Service, South Quay Plaza, 183 Marsh Wall, London E14 9SR
by telephone: 0300-123 9133
by e-mail: email@example.com
Further details can be found on the Financial Ombudsman Service website: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Monitoring and compliance
We have a Code Compliance Officer and our internal auditing procedures make sure we comply with this Code.
Data protection and confidentiality
In the event that the loan made to you becomes repayable immediately (as provided for in the loan agreement) the following provisions will apply:
We will tell you when we plan to inform the CRAs that you have an account and how you run that account.
The CRA will keep a record of any search, and other lenders may use it to assess applications from you in the future. We and other lenders may also use the search information to prevent or detect fraud and money-laundering, to trace debt, and for statistical purposes. If you ask us to, we will tell you the name of the CRAs we use and you can contact them if you want to get a copy of the information they hold about you.
If we are legally entitled to do so, we may give default information to CRAs about your loan if:
- you have fallen behind with your payments;
- the amount owed is not in dispute; and
- you have not made arrangements we are satisfied with for repaying your debt, following our formal demand.
If you are in dispute with us (over the amount owed, for example), you may contact the CRAs to record this information on your file.
We may also register a “default” on your credit reference file if your account remains in arrears by at least three monthly payments or if we are taking some form of action to collect the amount you owe. As a general rule, we will give you at least 28 days’ notice if we decide to register a default on your credit reference file. The default will show that you have not been able to keep to the conditions of your agreement with us and will stay on your credit file for six years. We will also give you an explanation about how the default information might have an effect on your ability to get a loan in the future.
We will keep your personal information confidential (even where you are no longer a customer) and will tell you how we plan to use this information before we collect it.
We will not reveal information we hold about you to others, unless:
- we have your permission to do so;
- we have to by law;
- we have a public duty to do so; or
- if it is in our interests to do so (for example, for legal proceedings). However, we will not use this as a reason to give your personal information to anyone else for marketing purposes, unless we have your permission to do so.
We will let you know how to get a copy of information which we and the CRAs hold and that you have a right to see under the Data Protection Act 1998. A fee may be charged for supplying that information.
If we record or monitor telephone conversations, we will tell you this.
Financial Conduct Authority consumer helpline – 0845 606 1234 Call charges may vary.
Free money advice
- Call Consumer Direct on 0845 404 0506
- Citizens Advice To find your local office, look in your phone book under “C” or in the Yellow Pages under “Counselling and advice” or from citizensadvice.org.uk
- Call National Debtline on 0808 806 4000 (This call is free)
- Call Consumer Credit Counselling Service on 0800 138 1111 (This call is free)
- Call Money Advice Scotland on 0141 572 0237
- Call Advice4Debt Northern Ireland on 0800 917 4607
- Call Advice UK on 020 7469 5700
- The Trading Standards Department of your local council (also known as the Consumer Protection Department). You can find their details in the Yellow Pages under the heading “Consumer organisations”
- If you are a student, contact the Student Welfare Officer at your Students’ Union.
Credit reference agencies
Credit reference agencies hold different types of information. You can get copies of the information held about you by writing to the following addresses enclosing a fee of £2.00. You can also order copies by going onto the credit reference agencies’ websites.
Consumer Services Team
P.O. Box 491
Credit File Advice Centre
P.O. Box 1140
Customer Support Centre
P.O. Box 8000
If you are in breach of our loan agreement and as a result the full amount of the loan and interest/fees are repayable, and you are unable to repay us on the due date, we will be guided in our conduct by the guidelines set out in this Appendix.
How we can help each other
If you find yourself in financial difficulties or if you are having problems keeping up current or future repayments, you should let us know as soon as possible and stay in contact with us. The sooner you discuss your problems with us, the easier it will be for both of us to find a solution. The more you tell us about your full financial circumstances, the more we may be able to help. If you do not stay in contact with us, it will be difficult for us to help you.
If you are in financial difficulties, we will:
- explain what our procedures are and let you know the options available to you;
- give you a telephone number for a member of our staff or specialist team who can consider your options with you;
- take into account money you tell us you owe to other lenders and any other commitments you tell us about;
- tell you if we pass your account to someone else to collect the overdue payments on your loan, such as a debt collector or solicitor (we will always choose firms which agree to follow the Credit Services Association’s Code or the FCA’s Debt Collection and Debt Management Guidance – see Helpful Information, as well as the standards for handling financial difficulties set out in this Code);
- make sure that if we pass your account to someone else, they are aware of any arrangement we have already made with you;
- tell you what information we will pass to the credit reference agencies (“CRAs”) about your account, if we agree to accept reduced payments from you;
- explain if a default will be registered against you (the default will show that you have not been able to keep to the conditions of your agreement with us and will stay on your credit file for six years). This includes if you have made an arrangement but it is insufficient to meet our minimum requirements for a repayment plan;
- not harass you or put you under unnecessary pressure (however, we would expect to be able to contact you at reasonable times);
- make sure that you are left with enough money to pay your reasonable day-to-day expenses;
- tell you without unnecessary delay if we agree to:
- freeze or reduce the interest rate on your agreement;
- start to apply interest on your account;
- intend to go back to the initial rate of interest on your agreement; or
- re-apply interest to your account;
- deal with people whom you have asked to act on your behalf, with your authority, unless those people behave unreasonably. If we do contact you directly when such an authority is in place, we will explain why we are doing so;
- give the same consideration to repayment plans whether you use a debt-counselling organisation or a “self-help” approach (for example, where you are suggesting a repayment plan);
- explore different options with you for repaying what you owe. We will keep any repayment arrangement under review and we will not ask you to increase your repayment unless your financial situation has improved;
- advise you if we sell your debt to a third party and who they are. We will do this before they begin any collections activity and we will always choose firms which agree to follow the Credit Services Association’s Code or the FCA’s Debt Collection and Debt Management Guidance, as well as the standards for handling financial difficulties set out in this Code. When we advise you of this change, we may do this jointly with or via the third party.
If we are aware you have a long-term health difficulty, we will
- make sure that we limit the number of times you or the person you have authorised to act on your behalf has to provide details of your condition to us; and
- make sure that we accept appropriate evidence of your condition when considering your financial difficulties and the options available to you.
You must tell us as soon as your personal circumstances change if these have an effect on your income.
Debt and mental health
If we are aware that you have a mental health problem, we will:
- work with any debt-counselling organisation and health and social care professionals acting on your behalf if you ask us to;
- give you reasonable time (for example, 28 days) to collect and submit relevant evidence you want us to look at when deciding the most appropriate action for dealing with your financial difficulties;
- consider any information you or the person you have authorised to act on your behalf gives us on a Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form (“DMHEF”);
- refer to the debt and mental health good practice guidelines produced by the Money Advice Liaison Group;
- record relevant information about you on your account so that our staff can deal with you appropriately. We will only do this with your explicit consent and in line with the requirements under the Data Protection Act 1998. We will inform you how your information will be used and for what purposes; and
- only take court action to recover what you owe as a last resort and when it is appropriate and fair to do so.
If you are in financial difficulties, you can get help and advice from debt-counselling organisations. Once you tell us that you are in financial difficulty, we will tell you about these debt-counselling organisations if you ask. If you send us your permission, in writing, we will work with debt-counselling organisations that we recognise. For example:
- Citizens Advice
- Money advice centres;
- The Consumer Credit Counselling Service; or
- National Debtline.
All of the above are free of charge. See Helpful Information for more details.
If you are making a genuine effort to agree a repayment plan using either a debt-counselling organisation or a “self-help” approach (for example, you are suggesting a repayment plan), we will not contact you or take any action to recover the money you owe us for 30 days. We will confirm with you or your adviser how your account will operate during the 30 day period. If you or your adviser provides us with clear evidence that real progress is being made in reaching a repayment plan, but work has not yet concluded, we will extend the breathing space for an additional 30 days.
Token offers and write-offs
We will accept token offers if you can show that you have no surplus income left to pay your “non-priority” debts and there is a real prospect that your circumstances will get better. If we consider that your personal and financial circumstances are exceptional and unlikely to get better, we may consider (as well as other options) writing off or not pursuing part or all of your debt. If you ask us to write off your debt and we do not consider it appropriate, we will write to you with our reasons. If we accept token offers or write off your debt, this may be recorded as a default by the CRAs.
Interest and charges
We will consider reducing or stopping interest or charges if you can show us you are in financial difficulties and unable to meet the repayments on your loan. Interest and charges will not continue to be taken if this would lead to the repayment period becoming excessive taking into account the type of loan and your circumstances. We will base our decision on your lack of ability to repay and if we do not allow concessions we will explain why if you ask us to.
Common Financial Statement (“CFS”)
If you have debts with many lenders, a debt-counselling organisation may complete a CFS (or an equivalent that is acceptable to us) on your behalf, which we will accept as the basis for negotiations with you in drawing up a plan to manage your debt.
We will only challenge a repayment offer based on expenditure falling within the figures of the CFS if we have reasonable cause to believe that the amount of your income and expenditure may be incomplete or inaccurate.
Where the loan we made was used to purchase an asset (for example, a car) we may draw to your attention that you may wish to consider selling the asset to reduce your loan commitments.
We follow the CFS Creditor Good Practice Checklist which promotes clear communication between lenders and their customers. A copy can be found at www.lendingcode.org.uk