Deputy Michael Lowry has welcomed the introduction of a new Consumer Protection Code to protect consumers from unfair practices and procedures by financial institutions but has called for additional consumer support from the Government.
The Code was introduced this week by the Central Bank of Ireland and is due to come into effect from January of next year. It will apply to all regulated entities including banks, insurance companies, investment companies and intermediaries.
Deputy Lowry stated that “The new Consumer Protection Code goes some way toward enhancing the protections in place for vulnerable consumers. It goes some way toward levelling the playing field between financial institution and consumer by imposing codes of conduct on regulated entities that force honesty and full disclosure of information. For example the Code obliges regulated entities to assess more carefully the suitability of a financial product for a client, as opposed to pressurized selling of a particular product. Not alone must the key information of a certain financial produce be disclosed but in addition more balanced information must be provided in advertisements. Possibly the most welcome step forward is the recognition by the Central Bank that certain consumers may be more vulnerable than others. However I have some concerns in relation to how the Code regulates contact with customers in arrears or financial difficulty. Whilst it imposes some restrictions on how banks can deal with customers in arrears I believe that far greater steps need to be taken. It is important that families who are under extreme financial pressure are not further harassed by lending institutions,” Deputy Lowry said.