Loans data to be shared real-time

Piggy bank with IOU

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Another major credit reference agency is to start sharing "instant" information about consumers' borrowing habits to help prevent firms lending to people who are on the brink of tipping into a problem debt spiral.

Experian announced it was to launch a new service this autumn giving credit providers a real-time snapshot of someone's financial information, enabling them to make lending decisions which were more accurate and fair.
The service has been developed partly in response to the rapid growth of the payday loan market in the UK, to plug an information gap by giving firms a more up-to-date assessment of someone's credit risk.

Many online lenders promise borrowers cash within minutes of a loan being approved.

A Experian spokeswoman said the service was aimed not only at payday firms but at the whole lending industry, including mainstream lenders, utility and telecoms firms, so that they got a fuller picture of what financial pressures people might be under.

Concerns have been mounting for struggling borrowers who are getting into even more trouble by taking out a string of loans from multiple lenders within a short space of time.

In December, the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee called for better sharing of up-to-date information between payday firms to prevent this from happening.

Experian said the new real-time service would update several times over a 24 hour period.

This would mean that alarm bells would ring with lenders if someone tried to take out a string of loans with different firms over the course of a day.

Paul Vescovi, managing director of Experian's credit services in the UK and Ireland, said: "In order to ensure people are being treated fairly and are protected from increasing debt, all lenders in the UK need to be able to understand exactly what financial pressures a person in under elsewhere in their lives."

Last month, Callcredit, another large credit reference agency, said it was launching a new real-time service which would have a ''major positive impact for both lenders and consumers''.

Lenders would begin testing the Callcredit system in April, with the aim of it being used to help enable more accurate lending decisions from early May.

The whole payday lending sector is under investigation by the Competition Commission, amid concerns that some firms appear to have been basing their business models around struggling borrowers who cannot afford to pay back their loans back on time, meaning the original cost of the debt spirals and the borrower becomes trapped with that lender.

Last week, the Competition Commission released a progress update, in which it said it had found that less than two-thirds of payday loans were fully paid back on time or early.

The Commission said around half of customers who had never taken out a loan with a given payday lender before ended up either rolling over their first loan or borrowing more money from the same lender within 30 days of the original loan.

It would produce a full report later this year.

From April, tough new regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will start to oversee payday firms.

The FCA recently announced plans to crack down on the sector, including limiting the number of times payday lenders are allowed to roll over loans to twice, forcing them to put "risk warnings" on their advertising and limiting the number of attempts lenders can make to claw back money if there is insufficient cash in a borrower's bank account to two.

The FCA is also looking at capping the total cost of credit.

12 ways to save £10,000 in 2014
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Loans data to be shared real-time
Mortgage rates are low at the moment, but even if you feel that your mortgage is a pretty good deal already, for a lot of borrowers there are better rates to be had. It's crucial to get the sums right – high upfront admin costs from a new lender or large early repayment fees from your existing mortgage provider could wipe out any savings. But, says David Hollingworth of brokers London & Country: "If you have an average standard variable rate (SVR) of 4.75%, a borrower with a £150,000 repayment mortgage over 20 years would pay £969.34 each month. Switching to a two-year fix with Norwich & Peterborough BS at 1.99% with £295 fee, free valuation and free legal work for remortgage would cut the payment to £758.11 a month, saving £211.23p.m." Over a year, that would mean a saving of £2,240, even with a £295 up front fee, and £2535 in following years.
Potential saving: £2,535
Your home and contents insurance may be costing more than it needs to. Gocompare.comdata shows that 25% of customers who provided their buildings and contents insurance renewal price saved up to almost £160 by changing to a new provider.
Potential saving: £160
With today's high cost of fuel, running a car is an expensive business. For a lot of people, particularly where public transport is sparse, giving up a car altogether is too big a challenge. But perhaps you could use it less, and take steps to bring down the cost of driving when it's unavoidable. The Energy Saving Trust says that just keeping your tyres pumped up correctly can save £31 a year, and turning off the air conditioning can save £77. Follow all the advice on the Energy Saving Trust's app, such as lift sharing and keeping your speed down, and the organisation claims you could save as much as £554 a year for a medium car covering medium mileage.
Potential saving: £554
If you haven't changed car insurer recently, the chances are you could save a lot of money by doing so now. According to research from Consumer Intelligence for, in October 2013, 51% of consumers could save up to £242.55 by moving to a new insurance provider. There are plenty of comparison sites to try, including AOL Compare, so it really doesn't take long to find a cheaper deal.
Potential saving: £243
Start by finding out whether you could get a cheaper deal from a different energy supplier. If you haven't changed in the past, you probably can. According to, you could save around £309 a year just by switching to a cheaper deal (based on customers who switched energy supplier for both gas and electricity (dual fuel) using the Energylinx platforms between 1 July and 30 September 2013).

Over the long term, there are plenty of ways to bring down bills that involve a relatively large outlay up front, such as ensuring your home is properly insulated. But just cutting your current energy use can have a huge impact on your energy bills. Some of the steps you can take are just a question of habit changing, such as switching appliances off instead of leaving them on standby. The Energy Saving Trust reckons the average household could save £50 and £90 a year just by unplugging or switching off at the socket. And turning down the washing machine temperature to 30 degrees, using a washing up bowl instead of leaving the tap running and only putting as much water in the kettle as you need can save you as much as £55 a year. Draught-proofing will save another £55, and proper 270mm loft insulation could save you up to £180 a year – taking into account the cost of fitting it the savings will take a couple of years to kick in.
Potential saving: £689 (far more if you take all the right steps in the home)
According to the NHS, most people who quit smoking save almost £2,000 a year. On top of that you get to feel healthier. What's not to love?
Potential saving: £2,000
Or at least, make your own. If you work in a town or city, the temptation to pop in and get a coffee can be strong. There's something comforting about sipping a hot coffee from those nice warm paper cups as you gear up for the working day. But if you stop to add up what it costs (including the cup), it may leave you cold. A Starbucks medium (OK, tall) latte costs £2.60 on the Strand in London. If you have one of those five days a week, 46 weeks a year (allowing for four weeks holiday), that means you are spending close to £600 – a tall price for a caffeine fix. If you make your own, a Bodum coffee maker costs £20 and a kilo of coffee costs around £13 and will make roughly 120 – 140. Missing the cup for the walk to work? Buy a Thermos mug for around £10. For £43, plus the price of milk, you can have coffee on the go all year round.
Potential saving: £557
It's a familiar scenario for many well-intentioned would-be gym bunnies. You sign up super motivated. You buy new workout gear, perhaps you work out regularly at the start. But then something – a holiday, a nasty cold, late nights at work – breaks your momentum and you stop going to the gym. Eventually your workout clothes lounge around in the cupboard while the gym keeps your bank balance trim by taking that direct debit each month. Gym memberships vary, but if you pay £80 a month for full membership, that's £960 a year's worth of good intentions. Invest in some proper running shoes – you can spend a fortune but specialist shop Run and Become has decent shoes for £50 – and hit the road. Need motivation? Download a free app such as Couch to 5k to get you started and track your progress as you get fitter.
Potential saving: £910
The range of mobile tariffs can be baffling. Many people end up on the wrong deal, perhaps paying for call time or extras they don't really need or use. There are a number of online tools and apps you can use to check your bill is not too high, such as Billmonitor and Mobilife. Enter your existing details and see if you could save money. In 2012, Billmonitor reckoned 26 million consumers in Britain were paying over the odds by as much as £164. The savings you could make will vary hugely, but it's certainly worth taking a look to see what you could save.

Apps like Viber and Whats App are also worth a mention as they allow you to text and call (Viber only) other users for free who have the apps on their smartphones. Whats App has ayearly subscription fee of around 65p, but the only other cost is the data on your smartphone plan if you're using 3G.

And when it comes to your broadband and home phone, it pays to find out if you are on the best deal. Dominic Baliszewski, telecoms expert at says: "Our own analysis has highlighted time and time again that a high proportion of customers do not actually switch broadband regularly enough to benefit from better pricing, which is crazy when you consider that switching can save you over £200 from your annual bill. Switching levels for broadband are woefully low when compared with energy or insurance services."
Potential saving: £364
In the UK, households throw away an estimated 25 meals each month, worth a total of £60 a month or £720 each year. Avoid buying too much food, even when it seems like you are saving money. Try not to 'take advantage' of bulk buy deals you may not use, make good use of your freezer for fresh foods rather than putting them in the fridge and forgetting them, and change a few of your shopping and eating habits and you may save money.

Make a list and stick to it. Shopping online can help you avoid temptation, and if you do your shopping on, you could save even more. Enter your items as you would on a supermarket site, and it will find the cheapest supermarket for your needs saving on average £17 a shop, according to the site. On a weekly basis that makes £884.

Growing your own vegetables can also save money, although the set up costs can be relatively high if you are starting from scratch. But some foods are cheap and easy to grow, even if you have little space. If you are in the habit of buying bagged salad, you could easily save a significant sum by growing your own. Jane Perrone, gardening editor of the Guardian and author of The Allotment Keeper's Handbook, says: "The materials to grow your own probably cost something shy of £20 a year, for seeds and compost mainly - I usually use recycled containers." A standard bag of salad from a supermarket costs around £1, so if you would usually buy one bag a week, you would spend around £52 a year.
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A Sky Sports bundle costs £43.50 a month, that's £522 a year. It's enough to take you somewhere sunny on holiday. It's enough to buy a whole new wardrobe full of clothes. Or, more importantly, several weekly food shops. Whatever else you could do with that money, it's certainly enough to make you think twice about whether or not you want to keep paying those subscription fees.
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You might not be able to pay your credit card off straight away, but you can cut the cost. If your credit card has a rate of 18.9% and you have a balance of £5,000, then you could save £472 by doing a balance transfer to a credit card with a 0% introductory deal for the first six months.
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