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Victim of tracker mortgage scandal: 'If I was six months in arrears they'd be ringing me every day'

The Bank of Ireland customer was first told she was affected in December last year – but has received no additional information since then.

Image: house image via Shutterstock

A VICTIM OF the tracker mortgage scandal has expressed her frustration at her treatment by Bank of Ireland after it informed her she had been overcharged for years on her home loan.

It emerged last year that financial institutions in Ireland had charged thousands of customers denied tracker rates and charged higher interest rates than stipulated in their agreements. The Central Bank estimates almost 10,000 accounts have been impacted.

The woman, who does not wish to be named, told TheJournal.ie that she was first told of the overcharging on her account in December last year.

“In my case, it had been for a little over eight years. It was the usual story, I switched to a fixed rate in 2006 when interest rates were rising. When they came back down, I asked to go back on it, but I was denied the right to return to a tracker,” she explained.

The bank’s initial letter, seen by TheJournal.ie, states the customer had “been charged an incorrect rate of interest on your mortgage for a period of time”.

It adds that it will move her to the tracker rate set out in her mortgage documentation “to ensure that you do not experience any further detriment as a result of our failure”.

The letter also said the bank would write to update her in February 2017 to provide an update on:

  • The explanation of the exact circumstances that caused our failure in the first place
  • Any redress and compensation that may be due to you once finalised
  • Details of a payment towards the cost of independent professional advice that you may wish to seek
  • The independent appeals process that will be available to you.

 

The letter she received in February contained none of this information.

Instead, it stated that, “given the scale and complexity of this examination, your mortgage account remains under review and this work is still ongoing”.

The bank informed her that once her account had been fully reviewed, it would write to her with an update on the four points it referenced in its initial letter.

“I was eagerly awaiting that letter in February but there was nothing in it, it was just a fob-off. There has been nothing in the way of an update since. So, I thought I’d give them six months [from the first letter] and I rang last week looking for an update. There was no information, I was just completely stonewalled,” she said.

“They said it may not be until the end of this year now. I just got so mad, they just don’t seem to get the disruption it caused in people’s lives – there doesn’t seem to be an urgency to refund people’s own money.”

‘Struggling’

The woman has estimated she is owed as much as €15,000.

“It’s a load of money that I could have earmarked for other things,” she said. During the period of time she was overcharged, her mother was suffering from dementia and she had to pay for home care for two years.

“I’m a public sector worker, so I’m not badly paid, but I wouldn’t have spare cash to spend. From month-to-month I was genuinely struggling I had enough stress going on at that time without having to worry about my finances. And my story is nothing compared to what some people went through – some people lost their homes.”

She said she believes financial institutions who overcharged their customers need to be held to account, both by the Central Bank and by the country’s politicians.

“If I owed them that amount, or was six months in arrears, they’d be ringing me every day. When I ring them once in six months for an update, they treat me like an inconvenience,” she said.

“It’s frustrating when you consider how much money we put into those banks.”

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie about progress with its redress scheme, Bank of Ireland referred back to a statement in made in December last year.

This statement from six months ago stated the bank had identified 602 accounts where a right to, or the option of, a tracker rate of interest was not provided to the customer in accordance with their loan documentation.

It also identified 3,916 accounts on a tracker rate that was not the rate specified in their loan agreement. The bank offered its apologies to affected customers and committed to commencing with refunds in the first quarter of this year.

If you have been affected by the tracker mortgage scandal, we want to hear your story. Get in touch by sending a message to trackermortgage@thejournal.ie. 

Read: Banks in Ireland decline to give progress updates on their tracker scandal reviews>
More: Gardaí consulted on tracker-mortgage scandal – no reports made yet>

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