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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019
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Tracker mortgage victim speaks of 'constant harassment' from bank for arrears

Both David Greaves and his wife were diagnosed with cancer in the time it took for them to get back their money and €9,000 in compensation.

Group CEO of Permanent TSB Jeremy Masding (R) talking to the media while arriving the Department of Finance after being called in over the tracker mortgage issues.
Group CEO of Permanent TSB Jeremy Masding (R) talking to the media while arriving the Department of Finance after being called in over the tracker mortgage issues.
Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

A VICTIM OF the tracker mortgage scandal has described the “constant harassment” he endured from Permanent TSB when he went into arrears, before the bank admitted it had been overcharging him .

In the time it took for David Greaves to get back the €16,000 he was overcharged by Permanent TSB, both he and his wife were diagnosed with cancer. Although he is in the minority of tracker victims who have been repaid, he said he resents the fact that the bank pursued him so aggressively for arrears while it was overcharging him.

More than 20,000 customers were overcharged by their banks when they were either denied a tracker rate or charged the wrong rate of interest. This number is expected to rise significantly as a Central Bank probe into the scandal continues.

Greaves had purchased a buy-to-let property before he was married and had shifted from a tracker to a variable rate. When he later tried to switch back, he said “there was absolutely no way the bank was allowing me to”.

The father-of-two said a friend who had a background in finance told him he was entitled to get his tracker back and they continued to challenge the bank over the next few years. At the same time, the bank pursued him for arrears on the buy-to-let property.

“There was a letter to me one day saying [that] because I was in arrears they could take the house off me. My mother was living in that house at the time. Then another letter came in, written to the spouse of David Greaves and it said I was in arrears and asked if my wife had any funds to pay them off. That mortgage is only in my name,” he told TheJournal.ie.

There were phonecalls at seven or eight in the evening, I remember them. It was just constant harassment.

In 2013, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin disease (a form of lymphoma). At the time, he owned and was running two convenience stores and he decided to give up one of them as he went through chemotherapy.

“A bombshell hit two years later when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and I had to give up the second business so I could be at home,” he said.

Greaves was eventually refunded the €16,000 he had been overcharged, as well as €9,000 in compensation in 2015. The bank also cleared the arrears on the mortgage and gave him back his tracker.

We had to use that money to live off, the compensation didn’t really cover us, it just kept things afloat. It was a long seven or eight years, and that’s why I’m so angry because we suffered moreso during what was a difficult time personally. The money isn’t the end of the world, but they put us through such an amount of strain and stress – and our kids too.
If we were both in full health when we got the compensation, I would have gone after them harder, but that was around the time my wife was diagnosed. Mentally and physically I couldn’t put the family through that. And we needed the money.

The 49-year-old and his wife are both now in remission, but he said he feels “sore about the whole thing, and angry”.

Last month Permanent TSB’s chief executive Jeremy Masding told the Oireachtas Finance Committee that 32 customers lost their properties as a result of the bank’s overcharging.

In total, at least 1,951 of its customers are impacted by the scandal. The bank has apologised for the harm it caused, and has so far compensated 98% of customers.

However, Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty pointed out last month that 18% of customers have appealed.

The heads of financial institutions embroiled in this scandal have been hauled in to answer for the damage caused and there is now pressure on them to pay back all customers by Christmas.

“I feel fortunate that I at least got paid, I know lots of people are still waiting,” David Greaves said. “And I didn’t lose the house, but it’s what we went through all those years when we didn’t have to that makes me angry.”

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.

From ‘I don’t know what a tracker mortgage is’ to the biggest financial scandal of our time

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