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Vorderman gets slated again over promotion of risk loans

It seems that Carol Vorderman can't do right for doing wrong these days, after being slated once again by financial industry officials over her promotion of risky loans. The Countdown star has been the face of First Plus loans for a number of years now, and over the past couple of years has found herself at the centre of controversy as a result of the financial products that she has promoted. There are concerns that her household name could lead consumers to take out finance that could result in them falling into financial problems or even losing their homes.

One couple last year told reporters how they had taken out a loan with the company because they trusted the leading star of the advertisements, Carol Vorderman. However, they ended up being charged over £18,000 for insurance that they could not even use. Robert and Mandy Townley explained that they felt as though they had been ripped off over Payment Protection Insurance with First Plus. Mr Townley said: 'We were led to believe we had to take out PPI to get the loan, though we have found out this was not true. We thought we could trust a company being promoted by Carol Vorderman, but we were wrong. We are more in debt with little prospect of being able to clear it for more than 20 years.'

A year earlier the star faced controversy from debt charities, who urged her to stop promoting a company that offered loans that put peoples' homes at risk. One charity official stated: 'I think the problem is because of her high profile. She is well-known for having a kind of expertise and this is transferred in the mind of the consumer. I think there's a very great danger for anything that is heavily advertised and promoted that will lead people towards a conclusion which is unsuitable for them.'

In response to this an official from First Plus said: 'We hope that Carol gives people the feeling that FirstPlus can help restructure debts quickly, simply and responsibly. The vast majority of FirstPlus customers experience no problems.'

The star has now come under fire again as a result of a new loan that has been launched by First Plus. The loan offers rates starting at just 4.9% for the first ninety days, but after this time the interest rate rockets to a typical rate of 8.5% - even higher for those that have poor credit.

One official said: 'The initial rate is low enough to attract borrowers desperate for credit and who may be struggling to find it elsewhere. Yet 90 days offers negligible benefits and many people may not understand fully that the rate will soar in a very short time. This is a debt trap.' However, in response to this officials from First Plus said: 'Consumers don't have many options at the moment and we are responding to this.'

10th May 2008

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