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Laws to tighten on ‘hidden’ card surcharges

Hidden surcharges that are applied to credit and debit cards in order to push up the price of goods and services purchased online or over the phone are set to be banned under a new ruling.

An investigation conducted by The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has convinced the government to set a deadline of the end of 2012 to call a halt to the practice. Currently the fees, which are frequently added towards the end of transactions, are commonplace, but the OFT has called for a ban on all charges for debit cards, which will also apply to credit cards.

The ban will cover most retail sectors, but companies will still be allowed to add a small, not excessive, charge to transactions in order to cover the costs incurred throughout the operation. This will allow a more transparent view for consumers purchasing on their cards, according to the Treasury minister, Mark Hoban.

The ban follows a move by the European Union to sanction above cost surcharges on businesses including airlines, which is due to come into force in 2014.

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