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Central Bank unveils stronger consumer protection code

The new code, which comes into effect in January, is billed as the most significant upgrade of consumer protection since 2006.

The Central Bank - the current site of the Occupy Dame Street protests - has unveiled its new code of consumer protection.
The Central Bank - the current site of the Occupy Dame Street protests - has unveiled its new code of consumer protection.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

THE CENTRAL BANK has unveiled its revised Consumer Protection Code for members of the public in dealing with banks, insurers and intermediaries.

The new code, which takes effect on January 1, is billed as the most significant upgrade in protections for consumers of financial institutions since the code was first introduced in 2006.

The code outlines how banks and insurers are to handle customers in arrears on their loans, which for the first time will include credit card debt and buy-to-let mortgages.

The code explicitly bans unsolicited “doorstep” visits to consumers in attempts to sell them financial products, while there are also new tighter rules governing when personal visits can take place.

Under the new regulations, institutions will also be limited in the amount of unsolicited correspondence they can send to each customer in a month.

Elsewhere in the new provisions, banks and insurers are told that employees must not try to influence a customer’s potential purchases based on the commission that they may earn as a result.

In order to encourage safer mortgage lending, institutions will not be allowed to accept self-certified declarations of a customer’s income.

The bank is also to increase its consumer resources from that date, in a bid to ensure that the code’s new provisions are enforced.

The Central Bank’s director of consumer protection Bernard Sheridan said consumer protection was a key priority for the bank, and the new code was the culmination of “a significant review and consultation process to strengthen the existing consumer protection framework”.

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Gavan Reilly

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