How can I find out if a business is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is the conduct regulator for 56,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK and the prudential regulator for over 24,000 of those firms. This includes authorising Consumer Credit (including hire) Business.

The public register of authorised businesses can be found here.

What are the potential consequences of unlicensed credit trading?

Carrying out unauthorised credit business is an offence punishable by up to two years imprisonment or a fine or both. It can also mean that any agreements made are unenforceable and can be taken into consideration if an application for authorisation is made.

An individual carrying out a consumer credit business, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on 17th January 2017 charged with offences under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The case was sent to Southwark Crown Court for trial, and a Plea and Trial Preparation Hearing is provisionally listed to be heard on 14 February 2017.

It was alleged that the individual operated as an unlicensed consumer credit lender and conducted regulated activity without authorisation by entering into and administering regulated credit agreements as a lender. This type of financial service was licensed by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) until 1 April 2014, when it became regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

This is the first time that the FCA has taken criminal action in a case related to its consumer credit powers.