The legislator has decided to considerably modify the law on consumer credit in order to protect consumers and prevent them from getting bogged down in over-indebtedness. We provide an overview of the major changes that have occurred since April 1, 2015?
1. The burden of proof is on the lender
It is now up to the lender to demonstrate that he asked the questions necessary to examine the borrower’s creditworthiness and that he verified that the consumer was able to meet his “future” commitments.
The lender is also required to review the creditworthiness of the lender each year on the basis of a consultation with the Central Credit Office for individuals. This review also applies to sureties who undertake to reimburse the credit in the event that the consumer remains in default of payment.
The burden of proof that the consumer had free choice in connection with the conclusion of any ancillary service contract (for example: outstanding balance insurance) concluded at the same time as the credit contract also falls on the lender, respectively to the credit intermediary.
2. Prohibition on canvassing
The lender is prohibited from door-to-door canvassing or sending an unwanted credit offer to the consumer. The only exception provided by law is the assumption that the lender, respectively the credit intermediary, goes to the consumerer’s home at the express and prior request of the latter.
In addition, the lender will not be able to establish points of sale to conclude credit contracts in public places such as train stations or metro stations.
3. The standard credit application form
As soon as the amount of your credit exceeds 500 dollars, the lender or the credit intermediary is required to submit to you a credit application form or, if applicable, an information request form.
From now on, this form is standardized, that is to say that the questions included in it are the same for everyone and must report in particular to the purpose of the credit, income, dependents and financial commitments in Classes.
4. The global response from the Credit Center for Individuals
When a credit intermediary receives a credit request for which he must carry out acts of intermediation, the latter may ask the lender or the credit insurer to consult the Central Credit Bureau for individuals. The lender’s response is said to be globalized, that is to say that the information to the credit intermediary can only report to the number of credit contracts and the sum of the credit amounts recorded.
The credit intermediary may in no case ask the borrower or, where applicable, the person who constitutes a security, to exercise his right of access to the Central Credit Bureau for individuals with a view to communicating the response obtained.
5. Authorization and registration procedures for lenders and credit intermediaries
Licensing and registration procedures for lenders and credit intermediaries are changing. It is no longer the FPS Economy but the FSMA which becomes competent in this area. The lender remains however obliged to submit, before its approval, its model contract to the FPS Economy.
Strict conditions are imposed on credit intermediaries such as professional liability insurance, compulsory affiliation with a mediation service, knowledge and training requirements.
6. Mystery shopping
The FPS Economy can instruct members of its staff or third parties mandated by it to go to credit companies, presenting themselves as clients or potential clients, without having to disclose their quality as agents of the FPS Economy or third parties mandated by it and without having to specify that the information obtained during this visit may be used by the FPS Economy for the purposes of exercising its control. Caution is therefore required!