1. The OFT is a non-ministerial government department established in 1973. Our mission is to make markets work well for consumers.
We aim to achieve this by:
To make the best use of our resources in terms of real outcomes for UK consumers, we need to make sure that we make appropriate decisions about which projects and programmes of work we carry out across all areas of our responsibility. These decisions are based on our Prioritisation Principles.
For more information on our plans please view our annual plan.
We are bound by the powers given to us in legislation. For example, Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (OPSI website) restricts the OFT to enforcing legislation only where there has been a breach that affects the collective interests of consumers (see paragraph 9.2 of the Enterprise Act guidelines published by the OFT).
This means that we don't have the powers to get involved in your individual dispute. However, there are people who may be able to help you. For more information, see 'Where can I get advice about a problem I'm having with a particular business?' below.
Although the OFT is unable to act on your behalf, we can act to protect a large number of consumers throughout the UK.
You can get advice from Citizens Advice consumer service. The Citizens Advice consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit www.adviceguide.org.uk - making a complaint or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.
You can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service (www.adviceguide.org.uk - making a complaint or 08454 04 05 06) for advice about how to complain about a particular business. They will be able to direct you to regulators such as Ofcom, local authority Trading Standards Services or other bodies who might be able to help.
If you want to report a business that you feel may be unfit to hold a consumer credit licence, please send your concerns in writing to us, indicating if you are happy for us to disclose details to the trader. Your complaint will then be added to any evidence we have about that trader and will help us to decide whether they are fit to hold a licence. Please note that we will not be able to help you with your individual dispute.
If you want to report a scam, please contact Action Fraud which is a dedicated scam reporting service managed by the Police. You can call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Yes, you can report businesses that are not complying with consumer and competition legislation. We will log your information and then look at the complaints to decide on areas that might require us to monitor traders' activities or to investigate.
However, in general we will use this information as intelligence to give us information on markets, and the activities of companies within these markets, to inform decisions on our enforcement priorities.
We cannot help you with individual disputes and you will not get an individual investigation of your complaint.
No. Please see further information on restrictions on disclosure (OPSI website).
We can, however, direct you to people who can help give consumers a reliable way of finding trustworthy local businesses. These are:
We have published guidance for businesses on a number of topics. This guidance is available on our publications page. For information on what we can provide advice on, see question 1 above.
The Consumer Credit Act 1974 requires most businesses that offer goods or services on credit or for hire or lend money or are involved in activities relating to credit or hire to be licensed by the OFT. For information relating to CCLs see the consumer credit licences page.
The OFT has a duty to protect the interests of consumers by monitoring the fitness of those holding or applying for consumer credit licences. You can check and see if a business is licensed by looking at the public register.
If you wish to complain about such a business, please send your concerns to us in writing. Please let us know whether you are happy for us to disclose your details to the trader as we may wish to contact them if we are concerned about similar complaints we have received. Please note that this would only be for the purposes of our investigation of traders' practices and to ensure future compliance for the benefit of all consumers. It would not be on your behalf as we cannot intervene in individual disputes.
Yes. The OFT aims to deliver an efficient and effective customer service but if you're unhappy with a service that the OFT has provided and you wish to complain, you can do so by writing to the Head of Enquiries. The address and further information can be found in the OFT's complaints procedure section.
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