The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced a large scale crackdown on websites that sell on details of people in debt.
Nineteen websites have been closed by the regulator, after they were found to have sourced information from people looking for credit before selling on data to other businesses.
The websites were found to have targeted people with disabilities, those with limited access to credit and those connected with the military.
The sites were found to be in breach of the Consumer Credit Act, and the OFT said it is continuing to monitor the situation to see whether the sites reappear with different web hosts.
Consumers have been warned to carefully consider any decisions with regards to personal details, as they could find themselves the subject of unwanted contact from a number of companies if their information is sold on.
"Websites like the ones we have shut down target vulnerable people and those who may not have easy access to credit," David Fisher, OFT director of consumer credit, said.
"We advise consumers to think carefully before entering personal data into any lead generation website, in case this information is passed on without their knowledge."
If you are struggling with debts, there are free services that you can turn to.
Debt advice specialists such as the CCCS and Debt Free Direct will offer free and impartial advice to those with debt problems.
Find the Best Debt Solution for you
The 19 sites that have been shutdown are:
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