Store card debts 'can be avoided'

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Consumers can easily avoid late payment fees on their store cards by signing up to Direct Debit agreements, a financial expert has said.

Rory Taylor, spokesperson for the competition commission, says that the recent enquiry into store cards, allied to the continuing bad press the products receive, has lead to a level of ignorance on how they operate.

"You can sign up for Direct Debit agreements and make sure you don't get any late payment fees, you can cancel insurance, those sorts of things," Mr Taylor explained.

"One of the by-products of any of our enquiries is that it puts a focus on things. Store cards got a bit of a bad press while we were looking at them - it does have the effect of making people possibly more aware of whether they want to take out a store card and whether they want to use it as a form of credit, but it is a bit early to see whether it has had widespread effects," he went on.

Research from the Competition Commission reveals that there were around 14 million active store cards with outstanding balances of £2,500 million at the end of 2004.

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