Calls for the FSA to extend its regulatory remit to comparison websites gathered pace today with other firms putting their weight behind the appeal.
Secured Loan Services (SLS) has added its name to a growing campaign, started by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA), to extend regulation to the popular online tools.
SLS says the issue is not just an important one for the insurance sector, but also for the mortgages, loans and investments sectors.
Currently, comparison sites offer a variety of operating procedures which are not overseen by the FSA.
SLS says in recent years there has been a real focus on making sure consumers understand the products they are being sold, the price they are paying for them, and the level of advice they are receiving.
David Burrows, managing director of SLS, says: “What we want to see is total transparency for the consumer and at the moment we do not feel this is what consumers are getting when it comes to online comparison sites.
“Not only do they operate from different standards, but there are also a number of comparison sites that run their own sales team and this would appear to be in conflict with offering a truly independent view of the market.”
Burrows says there is a need to look at the implications of those online comparison sites that act as lead generators, and a need to protect consumers bombarded with sales calls after carrying out online research.
“Even for those who do not wish to be contacted by salesmen, it is all too easy for consumers to end up facing calls which are unwanted and overbearing,” he says.
Research carried out last month by BIBA found the sites routinely make assumptions about users that can lead to inappropriate quotes, while 84% of users find the sites confusing.
It prompted the FSA to admit it will “undertake further investigation” of the issue.
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