WARNING: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyhelper.org.uk

Maxed Up Media is committed to the principles of Treating Customers Fairly (“TCF”). Our customers, as well as our partners, need to feel confident that fair treatment is central to our business model and long-term success of our business.

The TCF initiative is implemented to ensure the fair treatment of consumers by regulated firms throughout the life cycle of a financial and/or investment products, from its design to post-sale support. TCF principles are central to the Financial Conduct Authority’s (“FCA”) work in ensuring a fair deal for customers. The TCF Principles can be summarized by the following six outcomes:

Outcome 1: Customers can be confident that they are dealing with firms where the fair treatment of customers is central to the corporate culture.

Outcome 2: Products and services marketed and sold in the retail market are designed to meet the needs of identified customer groups and are targeted accordingly.

Outcome 3: Customers are provided with clear information and are kept appropriately informed before, during. and after the point of sale.

Outcome 4: Where customers receive advice, the advice is suitable and takes account of their circumstances.

Outcome 5: Customers are provided with products that perform as firms have led them to expect, and the associated service is of an acceptable standard and as they have been led to expect.

Outcome 6: Customers do not face unreasonable post-sale barriers imposed by firms to change product, switch provider, submit a claim or make a complaint.

Maxed Up Media has assessed the six TCF outcomes and the product provider responsibilities set out by the FCA. Maxed Up Media understands the importance of treating customers fairly in relation to the services provided by Maxed Up Media, and its senior management strives to implement the FCA’s TCF principles into its culture and practices.

CONDUCT RISK – DELIVERING TCF IN OUR BUSINESS

Maxed Up Media introduces consumers looking for specific financial products and services (specifically, regulated consumer credit loans) to providers of financial products and services. As a passive conduit for information and the making of introductions, Maxed Up Media itself does not provide financial products, but it recognizes that it has an obligation to meet the FCA’s TCF principles by providing fair, clear and transparent information which does not mislead directly or indirectly by content, format or omission to facilitate consumers making informed choices when using Maxed Up Media’s services or the services of any lender or other financial services provider to which the consumer may be introduced by Maxed Up Media.

The following areas are where Maxed Up Media’s activities present particularly high risks and our controls and procedures to avert such risks:

VIOLATION OF BUSINESS STANDARDS FOR CREDIT BROKER

Maxed Up Media is a credit broker which makes introductions to providers of credit services based upon the best interests of the consumer, rather than Maxed Up Media’s financial interest.  However, because Maxed Up Media is paid by financial service providers and not by consumers, a risk exists that Maxed Up Media will refer consumers based upon the highest pay-out provided by financial service providers rather than according to the best interests of the consumer. Accordingly, Maxed Up Media shall implement the following mitigation procedures:

CONSUMER CONFUSION AS TO CREDIT BROKERS VS. LENDERS

An adverse market effect particularly relevant to the short-term credit sector and brokers that operate in that sector is consumer confusion regarding the difference between credit brokers and lenders. This generates a risk of unfairness and a lack of transparency as consumers are unaware as to whom to properly contact regarding concerns over credit products and services that they have received.

Maxed Up Media shall mitigate this risk of abuse through the following methods:

All financial promotions and/or consumer communications generated by Maxed Up Media and its affiliates/lead generators will be required to include a prominent display of required status disclosures. These status disclosures will contain the following items:

              Proper forwarding/handling of complaints and queries

FINANCIAL PROMOTIONS

In order to introduce consumers to financial service providers, Maxed Up Media must make consumers aware of the products available and the lenders that can provide those products. Accordingly, Maxed Up Media will be involved in financial promotions both through direct marketing campaigns conducted by its Affiliates/lead generators and its own marketing efforts.

There are specific advertising standards and regulations particular to the credit products to which Maxed Up Media will introduce interested consumers, including CONC 3,which relates to governing financial promotions with regards to  consumer credit. Maxed Up Media must ensure that its introductions are to regulated consumer credit lenders and are suitable to the consumers’ needs. Accordingly, the following procedures will be adopted:

  • Any entity seeking to become an Affiliate of Maxed Up Media must be authorized by the FCA.
    • Maxed Up Medias Affiliate Managers will collect the Affiliate’s FCA reference number and verify that the Affiliate is authorized by cross-referencing the FCA’s Consumer Credit Register.
    • The Director and Legal Department will have final sign-off for approval of any Affiliate into the Maxed Up Media network.
  • Any financial promotion conducted by Maxed Up Media or on behalf of Maxed Up Media by an Affiliate will be reviewed and approved by both the Director and Legal/Compliance Department prior to its use.
    • Formal sign-off will be made, recorded, and stored by the Director and Legal/Compliance Department
    • Record keeping function will include a statement of reasoning for belief that the financial promotion is compliant with CONC 3 and other applicable law.
  • After an affiliate has been integrated into the Maxed Up Media network, the Director and Compliance Officer shall conduct audits of Affiliate websites or other promotional material every 3 months.
    • Records of the results of such audits will be kept in accordance with Maxed Up Media’s Document Retention and Record Keeping Policy and failure to comply will lead to the termination of the affiliate relationship.
  • All affiliates will be required to enter into a contractual arrangement with Maxed Up Media which reflects their regulatory responsibilities. Non-compliance will be grounds for termination of the relationship and withholding of any commission that is payable to that affiliate, and, if appropriate, reported to the FCA in accordance with Principle 11 of PRIN.
  • All affiliates with be remunerated for the same percentage of income generated from all the financial service providers, and the order of financial services providers is the same for all customers. Revenue for affiliates does not influence how the business operates as the customer’s needs come first.

POTENTIAL ABUSES BY FIRMS TO WHICH MAXED UP MEDIA REFERS CONSUMERS

Maxed Up Media recognizes that a risk exists that firms seeking to use its services may engage in non-compliant practices. Because Maxed Up Media is often the route by which consumers are introduced to lenders, it recognizes that it has an obligation to conduct due diligence on firms that use its brokerage services.

Prior to rendering services to any firm, Maxed Up Media shall first collect and verify the firm’s authorization information. Maxed Up Media will only render services to firms that have been authorized by the FCA.

There are other certain, key risks that Maxed Up Media recognizes and will take steps to mitigate:

VIOLATION OF FCA RATE CAPS

The FCA has imposed clear caps on the cost of short-term credit products. Maxed Up Media will not refer customers to a firm that does not comply with these caps. Accordingly, Maxed Up Media will take the following measures:

  • Once every three (3) months, collect all information about the daily cost of credit from publicly available sources on the cost of credit (daily interest rate; any fees/chargers; etc.);
  • Once every three (3) months, survey each financial service provider regarding the cost of credit;
  • If any financial service provider is in violation of FCA rate caps, immediately terminate relationship with the financial service provider and report the  violation to th  FCA.

violation of fca rules regarding fee-charging brokers

The FCA imposes specific requirements on fee-charging brokers. Maxed Up Media does not, and will not, charge any fee to its consumers. However, there may be instances where Maxed Up Media is unable to introduce a customer to a suitable lender and in these instances, it may consider introducing that customer to a fee-charging credit broker where it is deemed appropriate to do so according to the following process:

Fee-charging brokers must clearly explain their service, any fees that may be charged, how much those fees will be, and how the fees will be charged. This information must be sent in a durable medium to the consumer. Before a consumer may submit information that will result in a fee being charged, the broker must receive confirmation from the consumer that they have received and read the information notice.

Accordingly, prior to referring a consumer to a credit broker that may charge a fee, Maxed Up Media shall adhere to the following procedure:

  • The Director and Legal/Compliance Department shall review the broker’s site to verify that all the required disclosures regarding fees and the broker’s services are made. Formal sign-off shall be completed by the Director and Legal/Compliance Department.
  • The Director and/or Legal/Compliance Department shall complete a test registration on the broker’s site.

The Director and Legal/Compliance Department shall review a) The contents of the information notice; b.) The timing of the information notice; and c.) The medium of the information notice. This is to ensure that they are compliant with the FCA’s rules regarding fee-charging credit brokers.

  • Upon the satisfaction of the Director and Legal/Compliance Department that the broker follows the FCA’s rules, formal sign-off by the Director and the Legal/Compliance department will be executed and recorded.

general abuses by financial service providers

As a credit broker, Maxed Up Media will be, in many cases, the first point of contact a consumer may have with a financial service provider. Maxed Up Media is likely to be the recipient of complaints regarding the behavior of financial service providers to which it has introduced consumers. As a result, Maxed Up Media may become aware of allegations of non-compliant behavior by a financial service provider. Accordingly, Maxed Up Media will implement the following procedures:

  • Upon receipt of a plausible report of non-compliant behavior by a financial service provider, Maxed Up Media shall immediately suspend services to that financial service provider.
  • Maxed Up Media shall conduct an investigation of the report, including, but not limited to, further follow-up with the party who has made the report and the financial service provider.
  • If Maxed Up Media reasonably determines that it is more likely than not the financial service provider has engaged in non-compliant behavior, it shall permanently terminate services to the financial service provider.

Maxed Up Media shall report the abusive behavior to the FCA or other appropriate regulator(s) where appropriate in accordance with Principle 11 of PRIN.  

TCF TRAINING

All new staff will be trained by the Legal/Compliance Department regarding the risks, mitigation practices, and legal obligations set forth above as is appropriate for their position. The Director and Legal/Compliance Department shall keep records of these training sessions, including any training materials used and minutes of training meetings.

Maxed Up Media shall adopt personal development plans for each employee. Knowledge of legal requirements and the FCA regulations shall be one criteria by which all employees shall be evaluated. Employees who fail to show knowledge of market abuse risks or laws and regulations will not be permitted to perform functions in regulated areas until they have undergone further training in these areas.

ARRANGEMENTS FOR MONITORING CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES

As described above, all activities, clients, and affiliates must be approved by both the Director and the Legal/Compliance Department.

Written documentation as to each approval by the Director and Legal/Compliance Department shall be made and recorded in accordance with Maxed Up Media’s document retention policy. 

If you have any questions or queries regarding the Company’s TCF Policy, please contact us.