"Your application for a loan you never applied for was agreed!"

19 November 2008

So you're sat in the bar with the girls after work one evening, when a man you vaguely recognise walks across to your table and asks what you'll be cooking dinner for him. And he mentions he needs the dry cleaning picking up, too. Your confusion quickly becomes screaming panic when he explains that you're married to him. Seems you went on a blind date with him over a year ago, it didn't work out and as a result you two are hitched.


Of course that's idiotic, but something similar can happen to folk who do nothing more than browse online for a loan. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has held up two complaints concerning a company trading as Advantage Loans, because the company was seemingly demanding sign-off on a loan they hadn't applied for. Both complainants received a letter stating:

"We have recently been passed your application for a £2000.00 loan by a company that you applied to last year. We have checked the application and we believe that we can help you. Advantage Loans specialise in arranging easy flexible loans of between £200 and £10,000 for customers all over the UK... please call us as soon as possible we would like to arrange payout on this loan within the next 5 days."

Neither individual could remember applying for a loan the previous year. And it seems they hadn't; their details had been sold onto Advantage Loans by another loan website through a third party. One of these websites was price comparison site Beat That Quote. Advantage Loans considers Beat That Quote to be an "introduction company", providing them with some of the 5,000 applications they process every week. Both  complainants had registered some personal information with such sites, but not actually applied for a loan.

One other point made in both complaints (which were upheld by the ASA) was that the letters were sent in plain white envelopes marked PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL. Most of us would consider this kind of junk to be marketing material since we've never heard of the company, and if that's the case the envelope had to say so. Advantage Loans disagreed. The ASA didn't and upheld those complaints as well. Hurrah.

What do you think?

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