The preliminary opt in ended on Friday 22 November for the class actions that the Finnish Consumer Ombudsman is considering bringing against two instant credit companies. In total, over 1549 consumers have preliminarily opted in or requested that the Consumer Ombudsman assist them in the court proceedings for a credit-related case. Next, the Consumer Ombudsman will initiate negotiations with the opposing parties. The actual opt-in will begin next year if the class action progresses to the District Court.
The credit plans to which the possible class actions apply are the €2000 Suomilimiitti running account credit provided by J.W.-Yhtiöt Oy between 4 July 2016 and 31 August 2019, and the Euro24 Finance Oy €2000 running account credit provided between 20 May 2016 and 20 May 2019. The effective interest rate for both credit plans was over 300%.
The consumer ombudsman received a total of 1549 preliminary opt-ins and requests for assistance. Of these, around 85% were preliminary opt ins for the class action and 15% were requests for assistance from individuals who are not able to participate in the class action because a court case regarding their debts is either pending or has already been processed. Around 80% relate to J.W.-Yhtiöt Oy credit plans and 20% relate to Euro24 Finance.
‘We are satisfied to have obtained such a large quantity of preliminary opt-ins, and we can now proceed to the negotiations. There are still many possible outcomes to these efforts, but we are confident that many consumers will receive assistance with unreasonable credit costs,’ explains Consumer Ombudsman Katri Väänänen.
If the Consumer Ombudsman is not able through negotiations to reach a settlement with the opposing parties, the class actions will be filed in the District Court of Helsinki.
Others can still participate at a later date
The actual opt in for the class actions will begin in 2020 if the matter progresses to the District Court. All those seeking to join the class action must opt in by the deadline set by the District Court. This applies both to those that have preliminarily opted in and those who have not.
‘Tens of thousands of debtors are suffering from these two unreasonably expensive credit plans, so we are of course hoping that the numbers participating in the class action will further increase,’ Väänänen adds.
Other methods for decreasing credit costs
Some of the consumers who have one of the credit plans covered by the class action have already received or will possibly be receiving from the instant credit company a summons to the District Court. You cannot participate in the class action if you have been summoned to court because of your debts, but the Consumer Ombudsman can still provide assistance to you. If you have preliminarily opted in for the class action and you afterwards receive a summons, report the matter to email@example.com and we will make contact with you. If you have not preliminarily opted in and you have been summoned to court, you can register on the FCCA webpages and the Consumer Ombudsman will then assist you where possible. You may also request further information from the Consumer Advisory Services.
It is worth seeking relief for unreasonable credit costs even if you are not included in the class action. On the FCCA website you can find instructions for how to request a reduction of costs if the effective interest rate of the credit is over 50%.
Press release 23/10/2019: Finnish Consumer Ombudsman intervenes in unreasonable instant credit plan costs – preliminary opt-in for class action begins