HOME shopping and catalogue company Oxendale has been forced to pay a penalty for breaching moneylender rules.
The company is licensed by the Central Bank as a moneylender, and it states on the bank's register that it charges interest rates of up to 39.6pc.
The Central Bank said it reprimanded the firm and imposed a penalty of €8,000 on Oxendale and Co Limited for sending pre-approved credit offers to 650 customers.
This is where someone is approved for finance without asking for it, which is banned under moneylender regulations.
In June last year the company sent an email to 650 customers offering to increase their credit limits. Some 39 customers took up the offer.
Oxendale, which describes itself as Ireland's longest established home shopping company, told the Central Bank the email was issued to a limited number of customers.
The Central Bank said the company "took prompt and appropriate action to rectify the breaches once made aware of them".
Director of enforcement at the Central Bank, Derville Rowland, said: "This should serve as a reminder to industry to ensure that their processes and procedures, systems and controls are adequate to ensure compliance with the Consumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders."
She said the moneylender consumer protection code was introduced in January 2009 to ensure that moneylending customers get the same level of protection as other borrowers.
Oxendale is based in Santry in Dublin and had sales of €18.9m in the year to March 2012, according to filings in the Companies Office.
It is part of the N Brown Group of Manchester.
It made a profit of €2.45m before tax in 2012, down from €3.2m in the previous year.
Listed as directors are Irishman Ronnie Coffey and British citizen Dean Roderick Moore.
Mr Coffey was previously marketing director of Levi Strauss Ireland.
The company, which also includes fashion labels Simply B and Shoe Tailor, did not respond to queries from the Irish Independent.
Oxendale is one of 42 moneylenders licensed by the Central Bank. Most of these only provide door-step loans, and do not sell clothes and shoes on credit. Licensed moneylenders are legally allowed to charge interest of up to 180pc for short-term loans.
A separate probe by the Central Bank authorities earlier this year found that many moneylenders are giving cash-strapped consumers new loans before they have even paid off existing ones.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 heavily indebted people are being forced to use legal moneylenders, who charge exorbitant interest rates, in order to obtain lending as other financial institutions continue to turn them away.
Head of consumer protection at the Central Bank, Bernard Sheridan, said that he was concerned about multiple loans being issued to consumers by moneylenders.