Amendment 16

Part of Financial Services Bill - Report (2nd Day) – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 14th April 2021.

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Photo of Lord Leigh of Hurley Lord Leigh of Hurley Conservative 4:15 pm, 14th April 2021

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend the Minister on Amendment 14, as I raised that issue at Second Reading and it was very good to see it today. It shows that the Government are listening, which is very welcome. I thank him for his kind opening remarks on a number of Peers’ appearances: it was very perceptive of him. I will not repeat the sorry tale that he heard last time around, which is the reason for this amendment. He will recall that it was in response to an attempt to commit a fraud by sending me a credit card I had not requested, and that I was unable to progress matters with FOS because I was not a customer of the credit card company concerned. I had a letter from FOS, which says the following:

“The Financial Ombudsman Service must follow the rules stipulated by the Financial Conduct Authority handbook. The relevant section concerns dispute resolution—DISP—and DISP states that there are limitations to when FOS may investigate a complaint.”

This is the rule that stipulates that FOS may look at complaints only from “an eligible complainant”, and DISP 2.7.3 states:

“An eligible complainant must be a person that is … a consumer”.

The regulations go on to say that FOS may investigate a complaint from a consumer or “a potential consumer”, and that this consumer or potential consumer must have a relationship with the regulated busines. There is a full explanation set out in DISP 2.7.3 and 2.7.6 of the FCA handbook. As I did not genuinely attempt to make a credit application, I did not fit the description of consumer or potential consumer in the handbook. In his reply to me at Second Reading, the Minister said that

“it is already the case that potential customers of a firm can seek redress through the FOS scheme under the FCA’s existing rules, notably the FCA dispute resolution handbook rule. The relevant rule states that, to be an eligible complainant, a consumer must be, or have previously been, a potential customer, payment service user or electronic money holder of the firm that they are raising a complaint against”.—[GC 552.]">Official Report, 8/3/21; col. GC 552.]

This is completely contrary to the email sent by FOS, and there is clearly misunderstanding and confusion.

My noble friend the Minister was kind enough to suggest that I could report this matter to Action Fraud, and reports received by Action Fraud are then considered by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. Frankly, none of that need have been necessary or would be necessary in future if my Amendment 26, the only amendment I will speak to, were adopted. I seek for it to be adopted so that, from here on in, FOS can take action against credit card companies which do not seek to verify recipients of credit cards before they are sent out. At the moment, there is no redress for anyone who receives a credit card and no one for them to complain to. I do not think they can complain to Action Fraud because the fraud was never consummated, as it were. I very much look forward to listening to his remarks at the Dispatch Box later this afternoon, given that the Government are in listening and action mode.