People struggling with debt during the pandemic are being “hoodwinked” by online loan firms claiming to help.
StepChange, which offers free debt advice, says it is being impersonated online by firms who earn commission to set up repayment plans.
The charity raised the alarm after the latest government figures indicate a large debt repayment failure rate on loans known as IVAs, which suggests many agreements are unsuitable and missold.
“It’s crucial, as we head out of the pandemic period, that people struggling with a Covid debt legacy aren’t inadvertently hoodwinked into taking out an IVA by unscrupulous sales practices,” said Stepchange’s head of insolvency services, Peter Wordsworth.
Stepchange said it is “calling for a review of the personal insolvency landscape, to improve how it works for consumers and ensure that the regulation of this important but often neglected sector is fit for purpose.”
The Insolvency Service, part of the Department for Business, has also flagged the issue as a suspicious number of loan agreements end early. Many Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs), which usually last five years, are being terminated after two or three years, according to recent official data.