The OFT has launched a consultation on its proposed financial services strategy which sets out its approach to the sector in response to the current economic crisis. Writing in today's Financial Times, Chief Executive John Fingleton makes the case for a careful balancing of effective financial sector regulation with strong competition.

The NAO report The Office of Fair Trading: Progress Report on Maintaining Competitive Markets published earlier this month concluded that the OFT has improved the value for money it provides, and has focused resources and raised its profile by taking strong, high profile action against anti-competitive behaviour.

Backed by TV's Angela Rippon, February's Scams Awareness Month aimed to raise awareness of mass marketed scams, which cost the UK public £3.5billion a year. The OFT, Consumer Direct and our enforcement partners were busy throughout the month, and overall some 36 million people had opportunity to see or hear our messages via the media. 

The time it takes for electronic bank payments and cheques to clear for consumers has speeded up but further improvements are needed, the OFT announced in its Review of the Payments Council. The Review has been carried out to look at how the Council is measuring up in making the payments industry work for consumers and businesses.

OFT website has a new section providing information about our current investigations and projects. This is part of the OFT's ongoing project to increase the transparency of its work.  

We have also launched a new search engine which should ensure you get far better results. Using Google technology, search results are displayed in the Google format and can be ordered by relevancy or date.

The OFT welcomed the Court of Appeal's judgment in February that the unarranged overdraft charging terms for personal current accounts can be assessed under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations for fairness. The OFT has also announced that it is to streamline its investigation into unarranged overdraft charges by focusing on the terms of three banks in particular.

The OFT has launched three new market studies:

The OFT will be consulting stakeholders shortly on its Market Study Guidance.

On the consumer credit front the OFT has taken action against 1st Credit Ltd requiring it to improve its debt collection practices, after an investigation found that some of its business processes and procedures failed to meet satisfactory standards.

The OFT has also sought the closure of 'look alike' debt advice websites posing as official or charity advice sites.

Additionally, the OFT has launched a consultation on draft guidance for businesses engaged in second charge lending.

  • OFT telephone enquiries:08457 22 44 99
  • Consumer Direct telephone enquiries:08454 04 05 06