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Is a Consumer Credit Act licence required by private investigators?

Consumer Credit Act 1974

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 requires most businesses that lend money to consumers or offer goods or services on credit or engage in certain ancillary credit activities to be licensed by the OFT. Trading without a licence in such cases is a criminal offence and can result in a fine and / or imprisonment.

Does a private investigator need a CCA licence?

Most private investigators do not undertake licensable activities and as a consequence do NOT need to be licensed under the Consumer Credit Act.

The main licensable activities concern the provision of credit; not activities generally undertaken by private investigators.

  • sell goods or provide service on credit
  • hire or lease out goods for more than three months
  • lend money
  • arrange credit for others
  • offer hire purchase terms

There are four licensable activities that some private investigators undertake, and in which case they DO require a licence.

  • collect debts or purchase debts
  • help people with debt problems
  • advise people of, or help them find information on, their credit standing
  • administer agreements (but do not collect debts)

A licence is not required for accepting payment by credit cards issued by other businesses.

Licence categories

The licence categories that may be required by private investigators are:

Category D - Debt adjusting

Help people with their debt problems by taking over their debts or negotiating on their behalf (where the debts arise under consumer credit or hire agreements).

Category E - Debt counselling

Advise individuals about how to discharge specific debts (where the debts arise under consumer credit or hire agreements).

Category F - Debt collecting

Collect debts due to others, arising from credit or hire agreements.

Category G - Debt administration

Carry out activities (other than debt collection) relating to consumer credit or consumer hire agreements on behalf of another person who is the creditor, including someone to whom the agreement has been assigned (in the case of consumer credit), or owner (in the case of consumer hire).

Category H1 - Provision of credit information services (including credit repair)

Offer credit information services with no limitation. This would include allowing the licence holder to seek to alter, or secure the omission of, information about an individual’s financial standing and / or seek to restrict the availability of the information (the provision of credit repair services) and providing such services on a commercial basis.

Category H - Provision of credit information services (excluding credit repair)

Limited to being able to provide credit information services excluding the altering of, or securing the omission of, information about an individual’s financial standing and / or seeking to restrict the availability of such information.

Category I - Credit reference agency

Collect information about the creditworthiness of people with a view to providing it to others.

Further information on Comsumer Credit Licences can be found at the web site of the Office of Fair Trading www.oft.gov.uk

Register of Consumer Credit Licences

The OFT keeps a register of applications for, and holders of, consumer credit licences. The register can be found at: www.oft.gov.uk/ConsumerCreditRegister

The register provides basic information on licence holders, including:

  • the commencement date of a licence
  • type of activities covered
  • the authorised trading names and main business address of the licence holder
  • details of any undertakings given, requirements imposed and/or subsequent financial penalties levied.

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