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Friday, June 25, 2021

Barclays fined £26m over treatment of credit customers during pandemic

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Britain’s very own Barclays Bank is being fined £26m over the treatment of some credit customers who fell in arrears or experienced financial difficulties.

The fine was imposed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on Barclays Bank UK PLC, Barclays Bank Plc and Clydesdale Financial Services Limited (Barclays).

The FCA states: “Barclays has pro-actively redressed these customers, paying over £273 million to at least 1,530,000 customer accounts since 2017. The redress programme is close to completion.”

Due to lack of fair treatment the FCA found that Barclays:

  • failed to follow its customers’ contact policies for customers who fell into arrears
  • failed to have appropriate conversations with customers to help understand the reasons for the arrears
  • failed to properly understand customers’ circumstances leading it to offer unaffordable, or unsustainable, forbearance solutions

Barclays has since apologised to their customers and made amendments to staff training.

Sharklays picture
‘Sharklays’ – the spoof name of Barclays aimed to mock the way the bank utilises their funding.

Consumer credit firms are expected to show some forbearance with repayments, especially with customers under financial problem and/or in arrears with their bills. Otherwise the customer may run the risk of making the payment at the expense of other major debts like council tax, mortgage, utilities, child support etc.

Barclays agreed to settle with the FCA after their findings resulting in a 30% discount in their fine which would have been £37,223,500 otherwise.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA said: “Consumers should feel reassured that their lender will work with them to help resolve any financial difficulties, whereas Barclays’ poor treatment of its customers risked making these difficulties worse.

“Firms must treat consumer credit customers fairly, including when they find themselves in arrears. We will take action against unfair treatment, or where firm systems expose customers to the risk of unfairness.

“While this case predates the pandemic, this message is especially important as the impact of coronavirus continues to affect household incomes and budgets.”

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