Short- and intermediate-term loans used to finance the purchase of commodities or services for personal consumption. The loans may be supplied by lenders in the form of cash loans or by sellers in the form of sales credit. Installment loans, such as automobile loans and credit-card purchases, are paid back in two or more payments; noninstallment loans, such as the service credit extended by utility companies, are paid back in a lump sum. Consumer loans usually carry a higher rate of interest than business loans. Seealso credit.
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The Consumer Credit Act 1974 is a consumer protection law in the UK. Until 6th April 2008, it required certain businesses to obtain Consumer credit licences and protected individuals receiving credit up to £25,000. After that date, new agreements for credit in excess of £25,000 are also protected as a result of amendments made by the Consumer Credit Act 2006. Appeals under the Consumer Credit Act are made to the Office of Fair Trading. Mortgages of land are regulated by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
Cancellable agreements have a cooling-off period starting on the day the customer signs. This period is 14 days for goods bought from a mail-order catalogue. Otherwise, it is five days from the day the customer receives either a second copy of the agreement or a separate copy of a notice of cancellation rights.
Consumer credit licences are issued by the Office of Fair Trading. It is a criminal offence to offer credit services without a licence; penalties include a fixed fine and imprisonment.