Sunday 26 January 2020

Hoekstra calls on online businesses to tighten up on credit

Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra. Photo: Rijksoverheid

Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra has urged online retailers to tighten up their credit procedures to stop consumers falling into a spiral of debt.

In a letter to parliament, Hoekstra did not rule out legislating to restrict the use of credit for online sales to customers who are already in debt. One in five people classed as having ‘problematic debts’ owes money to a webshop or similar business, NOS reported.

The minister acknowledged that retailers had taken steps to limit access, such as no longer making buying in instalments the default payment option and checking customers’ financial position before offering credit, but he said more work needed to be done.

Hoekstra also said he wanted to review the obligatory slogan ‘Geld lenen kost geld’ (borrowing money costs money), appended to all adverts for loans and credits, which had not had the desired effect.

Figures from the credit registration agency BKR showed that in 2019 26% of customers who had been given credit had an uncleared balance, down from 34% in 2017 – partly because lenders wrote off large amounts of consumer debt in 2018. Hoekstra says he wants the proportion to be reduced further.

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