Central Bank criticised for credit database fee inaction

Consumer champions have criticised the Central Bank’s decision to begin operating its new national credit database without finalising the fees to be charged for its use.

From the end of this month, lenders will be required to submit details to the Central Credit Register (CCR) of all credit card, mortgage, overdraft, and personal loans of €500 or more and provide monthly updates on how they are being paid back.

From early next year, borrowers will be allowed one free personal credit report each year to check that details are correct and find out which lenders have been accessing their details.

The lenders’ footprint will be erased after six months so borrowers who wish to track their records will need at least two reports a year.

The fee for second and subsequent requests has not been decided, nor have the fees for lenders who will be obliged by law to get reports on prospective customers where a request is for €2,000 or more. Banks have said they will be passing on the costs to their customers.

Dermott Jewell, chief executive of the Consumers Association of Ireland, said greater clarity was needed for the consumer.

“This is a good initiative but if it is to have real support from consumers rather than an uncomfortable acknowledgement of its existence, then the way it operates needs to be clear, reasonable and fair,” he said.

In a consultation process, the Irish Banking and Payments Federation warned: “Costs, such as the CCR query fees, ultimately are paid for by customers.”

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service said borrowers should be able to access their credit records for free and the Credit Union Development Association said only records of loans of €4,000 or more should attract fees and no fees should apply “until such time as the Central Credit Register can demonstrate effectiveness and value for money”.

The Central Bank has said the register will be self- financing. “A final decision regarding the charging mechanism has not yet been made,” it said.

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