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Redstone Mortgages fined £630,000 over arrears handling

The FSA has fined Redstone Mortgages £630,000 for poor treatment of some customers in arrears and the firm will have to pay up to £500,000 in customer redress.

The failings identified by the FSA – which took place between 2007 and 2009 – include applying unfair or excessive charges, failing to ensure arrears handling staff understood treating customers fairly requirements, focussing on reducing arrears to less than two months regardless of individual circumstances, having policies which led to unnecessary use of litigation and sending out excessive and confusing correspondence.

Redstone Mortgages did not orignate loans itself, but purchased them from non-bank lenders.

Among the charges which the FSA deemed to be unfair or excessive were a fee which Redstone applied for a returned direct debit, which was imposed repeatedly no matter how many times the direct debit was returned unpaid.

Redstone also included arrears charges in the balance upon which early repayment charges were calculated.

The firm also applied a fee for litigation activities even where these activities were undertaken unnecessarily.

Under FSA rules, a firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and ensure they are treated fairly. The FSA says Redstone was in breach of these rules for a significant period of time.

FSA director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole says: “Many of Redstone’s customers were in a vulnerable position, having fallen into arrears on their mortgage payments, and firms should not charge such customers excessive and unfair fees. This is not how the FSA expects lenders to treat customers in arrears.”

Redstone qualified for a 30 per cent reduction in its fine, down from £900,000, because it co-operated with the investigation.

The latest action comes after the FSA previously fined GMAC-RFC £2.8m and ordered it to pay £7.7m in redress last October and in April this year the FSA fined Kensington Mortgages £1.2m and ordered it to pay £1m in redress over arrears handling.

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Comments

There are 5 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. As I understand it, the Statutory Code of Practice For Regulators states that regulators must pay due regard to the interests of those they regulate and ensure they are treated fairly.

    I do not wish to imply that the action taken by the FSA against Redstone Mortgages is in any way inappropriate. However, a bit more fair treatment from the FSA of the rest of us who do our honest best to serve our customers diligently and fairly wouldn’t go amiss.

    Pots and ketles and all that.

  2. This is good action by the FSA, as these adverse lenders do charge vulnerable customers a bit too much! Adverse lending was out of control and needs to be curbed. However, when customers default, they have to face consequences too!

  3. ‘Fairness’ implies mutual propriety.

    Leaving aside widespread misgivings about the antics of some adverse credit lenders, a significant question remains. Is it ‘fair’ to borrow money and then expect to default with impunity?

  4. Good for the FSA. This is exactly what they should be doing.

  5. Julian Stevens | 15 Jul 2010 11:58 am

    Why not, for once, just say “well done FSA”? Your statement is irrelevant.

    Socrates | 15 Jul 2010 1:07 pm

    V good point, there must be some consumer responsibility. Much of this came from some borrowers relying on increasing house prices and borrowing on a self cert basis ad infinitum.

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