To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will hold discussions with the Office of Fair Trading about the issuing of consumer credit licences to debt collecting companies and ensuring that recipients of licences have a responsibility to check properly the history of those individuals passed onto them to prevent older people who have faced identity theft from being caused distress.
We have recently given the Office of Fair Trading wider ranging powers to tackle debt collectors. Debt collectors are now subject to greater scrutiny at the licence application stage and greater monitoring throughout the life of the licence. Furthermore, as part of a recently completed investigation, the OFT has issued warnings to 13 companies telling them that they need to take steps to improve their debt collection practices. In particular, the companies involved have specifically been asked to review their policies and procedures for tracing debtors, including keeping client data up to date and maintaining its accuracy.