CONSUMERS must be reimbursed money they lose through fraudulent activity in the hire-purchase industry, says the Consumer Council of Fiji.
In its recently released report on the hire-purchase industry, the council called for an end to the practice of overcharging consumers through interest rate payment which amounted to fraud.
This was among the council's recommendations contained in the report which was launched in Suva by Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
"Since there is no regulatory authority on financial transactions of the consumer credit transactions, the prospect of a fair trading body examining the basis of the interest charges needs to be explored by consumers and consumer bodies such as the Consumer Council of Fiji," the council said.
The council called for the establishment of a credible regulatory authority to look after financial transactions of the consumer credit industry.
In an interview with The Fiji Times yesterday, council chief executive officer Premila Kumar said the sale of repossessed items should be regulated.
Such a regulatory mechanism should allow the following:
* that items are not sold at a price below the depreciated value of the item and that the depreciation rate be set by the Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority;
* an independent market valuation of the repossessed item and that such items be sold at nothing less than the independent market valuation;
* a refund to the consumer from the difference between the amount owed and the price fetched - requirement that is already legislated but hardly recognised or used; and
* the repossessed item cannot be sold until the dealer has obtained a court order for the resale.
The council said the enforcement arm of the Consumer Credit Act was the National Trade Measurement and Standards Unit of the Industry and Trade Ministry.