A LEADING North-East insolvency expert has called for a ban on shop staff offering store cards to customers.

Linda Farish, incoming chairwoman of the North- East arm of insolvency trade organisation R3 and director of Recovery and Insolvency, at Newcastle-based accountants RMT, wants controls on allowing financially unqualified shop staff from promoting store credit cards.

Ms Farish said: “It is irresponsible to encourage credit over the shop counter as though it is no more important than buying a new pair of shoes.

“Shop assistants are often rewarded on a commission basis and without proper training are inappropriately qualified to understand the long-term financial consequences of what they are being asked to promote.

“While these cards are presented as innocuous, they can lure vulnerable people into debt. They should only be offered by people who have been trained to sell financial products.”

Ms Farish made her comments as the Government closes its consultation on credit cards.

A recent poll by R3 found 72 per cent of insolvency practitioners across the UK believe it is too easy to get a credit card, with 66 per cent saying they have seen cases where people have signed up for store credit cards without any understanding of the interest charges or repayment terms.

Industry research has found case studies of individuals with unsecured debt of £300,000, and others with more than 30 credit cards at one time.

Ms Farish added: “We broadly support the Government consultation, which is considering raising monthly minimum repayment rates – this measure would encourage people to see store credit cards as short-term rather than a long term way of life.

“At a time when the number of personal insolvencies is expected to rise significantly due to the difficult economic situation, implementing measures like this, and doing everything possible to help people remain in control of their personal finances, is clearly the right thing to do.”