December 12 2003 The Government has launched a shake up of consumer credit laws with the Consumer Credit White Paper. It's proposals include strengthening the rules governing credit licences, scrutinising debt management companies and moneylenders; giving the Office of Fair Trading the power to fine lenders and conduct raids on loan companies; lenders will have to provide standard information when advertising financial products. Small print will have to be legible and lenders will need to provide upfront information; fairer rules for people who pay back loans early; and new telephone debt advice services.

Changes to the Consumer Credit Advertising Regulations will include new requirements for advertisements to be clear, fair and not misleading.

Changes to the Form and Content of Credit Agreements will enable consumers to compare the interest, charges and penalties associated with any type of loan. Consumers will be able to take pre-contractual information away to compare prices and get the best deal before they sign.

The White Paper also proposes an alternative dispute resolution system to make it easier to resolve disputes without having to go to court.