From 1 April 2015, a series of stricter rules for granting credit to consumers come into effect. The new rules must ensure better consumer protection and impose stricter conditions on credit intermediaries.
After all, 352,000 people in Belgium are struggling with loan repayments and the main reason is that it has been far too easy to get a consumer credit to finance purchases that in many cases are actually too expensive for the loans. data subject.
The new rules are a consequence of the entry into force of Book VII of the Code of Economic Law, which replaces the current laws on consumer credit, mortgage credit, payment services, the basic banking service and the law on the Central Individual Credit Register.
More difficult to obtain consumer credit
From 1 April, anyone who already has more than 1,000 dollars in arrears in paying off loans will in principle no longer be able to get a new loan. Anyone who is registered as a defaulter for less than 1000 dollars may still receive a consumer credit, but the lender will then have to justify this explicitly.
To make government control of this possible, lenders or credit brokers (for example, a seller who offers a purchase on credit) must submit a questionnaire to the consumer when applying for a credit. It contains a number of specific questions about, among other things, the purpose of the credit, income, dependents and current financial commitments.
From now on it is, moreover, the lender, and no longer the consumer, who must prove that he has asked the consumer the necessary questions and has carefully checked whether the consumer is able to pay off the credit.
Restriction of advertising for consumer credit
All forms of promotions, discounts or promotions linked to taking out a loan are prohibited. Giving a discount on a certain product because a credit is entered into for the payment of that product is therefore no longer permitted.
In addition, the message “Please note, borrowing money also costs money” must now be included in every credit advertisement.
In addition, the rules concerning the unsolicited sending of a credit offer are being tightened. For example, it is forbidden to offer unsolicited door-to-door consumer credit, to send an unsolicited offer of credit by post or e-mail or in any other way, to set up a point of sale for credit agreements in public places or stations (there is provided an exception for salons or fairs).
The result is that from now on, only if the consumer explicitly asks for it, a lender or seller may make a credit offer.
Authorization requirement for credit intermediaries
Until now, there were hardly any conditions attached to admission to the profession of lender or broker. From now on, however, anyone wishing to grant credit will have to apply for a license with clear requirements (comparable to insurance broker requirements), mainly in the area of professional knowledge. The financial regulator FSMA will explicitly monitor this.
Strict checks and mystery shopping by the Economic Inspectorate
When detecting breaches of the new rules, the officials of the FPS Economy Economic Inspectorate have the authority to present themselves as potential customers and as mystery shoppers to check whether the rules are followed by lenders and sellers.