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RACHEL REEVES MP HOUSE OF COMMONS LONDON SWIA 0AA 07/01/2019 Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive FCA Head Office 12 Endeavor Square London £20 LIN ew thd 1am writing to you to express my deep concern about the behaviour of credit provider Provident which cynically used the intense pressure on household finances over Christmas to target vulnerable customers. I was appalled to learn that just before Christmas, Provident sent a direct mail-out to customers about how “Christmas can be an expensive time of year” and offered short-term cash loans up to £1,000 at the extortionate rate of “representative 535.3% APR”. ‘The mail-shot featured a photograph of a small girl smiling and wearing a Christmas cracker hat with Christmas lights in the background, Other images included two girls laughing as they hung tinsel around their grandfather. ‘The text said: “Christmas can be an expensive time of year, s0 it’s good to know, if you need a loan, we could be here to help. You could borrow between £100 to £1,000 (subject to affordability). “ The direct mail-shot then urged the named recipient to “simply visit” Provident’s website and fill out an online application for a loan. I believe this was a cynical tactic to exploit vulnerable people who struggle financially at the best of times, let alone over the festive season. Provident tried to tug on people’s heartstrings with a deliberately emotionally-loaded message to urge them to take out a loan at a rip- off rate of interest As you may be aware, the Advertising Standards Authority has just upheld a complaint against Provident (complaint ref: A18-472363) and ordered the firm in its ruling not to republish the literature to avoid sending an “irresponsible message about debt 10 consumers, by for example, putting emotional pressure on them to take out a short-term loan”. However, while I welcome the ruling of the ASA, I strongly believe that it goes nowhere near far cnough in tackling this kind of grossly irresponsible behaviour when it comes to offering loans. Member of Parliament for Leeds West Tam, therefore, asking you to investigate to see what action that the Financial Conduct Authority could take against Provident to discourage this firm and others from repeatir these kind of shocking marketing tactics. Yours sincerely, hy Rachel Reeves