Consumers being hit by unaffordable credit is putting further pressure on household finances at a time when many families are already struggling, says ME Group CEO.

Rob Cooper believes more should be done to protect vulnerable consumers by making sure people know what they’re getting – particularly as secret commissions and hidden charges have unnecessarily driven up the cost of credit for those who can afford it least.

ME Group seek to champion access to justice through litigation funding and LegalTech.

Figures released from the FCA between April and September last year, show that the regulator received 16,400 enquires about possible scams, up nearly a third from the same period in 2020.  Whilst this largely relates to unauthorised traders carrying out financial crime, consumers are equally at risk of losing money to legitimate businesses carrying on unethical and unlawful practices.

Speaking about protecting vulnerable consumers, Mr Cooper commented:

“There are individuals up and down the country having to make very difficult decisions regarding their finances at the moment.

“What’s even more worrying is those who think it’s okay to prey on the financially vulnerable in this way.

“Much of how we address this issue is in the hands of the FCA, who need to be proactive in protecting people, across both investments and borrowing.

“Those firms breaking the rules need to pay the consequences.”

The FCA’s ScamSmart campaign encourages those considering investing to check its dedicated website.

The site features an online tool and the Warning List, which allows users to find out more about the risks associated with an investment and view a list of firms the FCA knows are operating without its authorisation.

The latest data shows a quarter of applications from firms wanting to join the consumer investment market are being stopped by the FCA.

In a statement on the FCA website, Sarah Pritchard, Executive Director of Markets at the FCA said:

“Consumers need to have confidence when making investment decisions and the data we’ve published shows how prevalent scams can be.

“Before investing, check you know who you are really dealing with, check if they are authorised by the FCA and do your research to understand the risks that might be posed.

“Find out how to avoid scams on the ScamSmart website and get tips on investing safely on the InvestSmart website.”