Unlike on this side of the Atlantic, where the very idea of protecting financial consumers is anathema and where preying upon the hard-up and less-fortunate is an exceedingly lucrative line of business, in the U.K., turning the screws on customers in distress is illegal. Indeed, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority goes so far as to require consumer credit firms to try to understand their positions and, heaven forfend, show forbearance to customers struggling financially.

In practice, this means British banks aren’t supposed to hammer people who miss payments, or proffer solutions that make their situations worse. (Incredibly, we know.) Of course, British banks are also not supposed to pay bribes or punish whistleblowers or manipulate markets, but this is Barclays we’re talking about.

The Financial Conduct Authority said Tuesday that between April 2014 and December 2018, Barclays and some affiliates failed to help some customers understand the reason behind missed payments and provided solutions that were unaffordable or unsustainable…. “Consumers should feel reassured that their lender will work with them to help resolve any financial difficulties, whereas Barclays’s poor treatment of its customers risked making these difficulties worse,” Mark Steward, the FCA’s director of enforcement and market oversight, said in a statement. Barclays didn’t dispute the FCA’s findings, according to the regulator…./Barclays said that it has since implemented changes to its systems, processes and training. The bank also has repaid more than £273 million to at least 1.53 million customer accounts since 2017….

U.K. Watchdog Fines Barclays Units $34.7 Million Over Treatment of Customers in Arrears [WSJ]

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