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121/05 5 July 2005
The Debt Managers Standards Association (DEMSA) has become the first debt management trade association to successfully complete Stage One of the OFT's Consumer Codes Approval Scheme (CCAS), which aims to promote and safeguard consumer interests (see note 2).
By completing Stage One, the DEMSA Consumer Code has met the OFT's core criteria in principle. To achieve OFT approval, the second stage will involve testing the code to see whether it is working effectively in practice (see note 3).
The DEMSA Code of practice promises to provide the following benefits:
DEMSA will now be invited to provide the OFT with evidence that these processes are working in order to achieve OFT approval. Codes are approved only once they demonstrate they are effective in promoting consumer interests beyond the minimum required by existing consumer protection law. Code sponsors and members of the OFT approved codes can then be licensed to display the OFT Approved code logo. They will also benefit from the OFT's promotion of approved codes and the CCAS.
In acknowledging the completion of Stage One, Penny Boys, OFT Executive Director, said:
'I welcome the steps taken by DEMSA and its members in developing their code of practice to ensure greater consumer protection for their customers, and very much appreciate the commitment and hard work that has made this possible.'
1. DEMSA is a trade association for the debt management industry.
2. The OFT's CCAS aim is to promote and safeguard consumers' interests by helping consumers identify better businesses and to encourage those businesses to raise their standards of customer service. The core criteria cover the organisation of the code sponsor, the preparation and content of the code, complaints handling, monitoring, compliance and publicity.
Stage One - The code sponsor makes a promise that its code meets the OFT's core criteria. The code sponsor must make sure its code contains measures designed to remove or ease consumer concerns and undesirable trading practices in its sector. At this stage, the code sponsor is not allowed to claim OFT approval for its code because there has not yet been an evaluation of how well the code is working in practice.
Stage Two - The code sponsor must prove its code lives up to the initial promise it made. The burden of proof lies with the code sponsor. The code sponsor must also show that the code is being effectively implemented by all who claim to adhere to it and that consumer disputes are properly resolved. When this burden of proof has been met, OFT approval of the code and promotion will follow.
4. See the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme section on this website for further information.
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