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Payday loans back in the spotlight

an open wallet
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 26 May 2012 at 1204 BST On Radio 4 and Online

This week has seen the lending practices of pay day loans firms come once more under the spotlight.

Firms have agreed with the government to freeze charges and interest for borrowers in difficulty and make "robust" credit and affordability checks.

It comes as the OFT criticised one firm for using aggressive and misleading debt collection methods.

Money Box has also discovered the same firm has admitted making a loan in error to a 16 year old.

Bob Howard reports and the programme hears from David Fisher, Director of Consumer Credit at OFT, freelance debt advice expert Nick Lord, Norman Lamb, Consumer Affairs minister and John Lamidey, Chief Executive of the Consumer Finance Association.

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Pensioners face anxious wait

More than 800 people in the UK who invested their pension savings in what was called an innovative annuity could have lost as much as £50 million.

Rockingham Retirement invested clients' money in so called 'death bonds' - packages of second hand life insurance policies which pay out when their subjects die. Returns of 10% a year were promised. But last summer Rockingham Retirement director Stephen Hunt was banned by the regulator from selling these products because of his "lack of competence and capability". Two months ago the firm went into liquidation.

The money was invested with a Luxembourg company, ARM. But last August ARM's Asset Backed Securities fund was frozen by the Luxembourg regulator - the CSSF. It had never been licensed. Investors now have no access to their cash and the monthly income many were receiving has stopped..

Former Rockingham Retirement director Stephen Hunt says his firm did carry out due diligence on the ARM fund. But has apologised for 'stupid mistakes' made.

Money Box hears from Gordon Pullan, ARM investors forum. And also from James Brooke, an IFA at Altior Vita.

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The case of the disappearing pension

Or more accurately, the pension that vanished altogether.

One Money Box listener, Lindsay Evans, took out a pension in 1997 but stopped paying contributions after 16 months.

When she checked on its value 15 years later, she discovered that, because of commission and monthly service fees, there was no money left at all.

Paul Lewis talks to Lindsay and another listener, Gerri Ellis, whose pension is rapidly being eroded by administration charges and he gets advice from Tony Attubato of The Pension Advisory Service.

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HSBC changes conveyancing policy

A u-turn for HSBC over its conveyancing procedures after complaints from Money Box listeners.

Two months ago we heard from several Money Box listeners how moving house had become a whole lot more stressful.

HSBC had introduced new rules which meant that home buyers with an HSBC mortgage had to get the conveyancing and legal stuff done by one of its own panel of solicitors and conveyancers, adding red-tape, extra costs and searches and in some cases putting house sales in jeopardy.

The Chief Executive of the Law Society made HSBC an offer live on air and they eventually accepted.

Ben Carter reports.

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturday at 1204 BST.

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