CUSTOMERS who hold current, savings and credit card accounts with Halifax have been told they can start looking for alternative banking arrangements because these accounts will be closed in the coming months.
Mortgage holders with the bank, however, do not have to take any action, as these accounts will remain in existence until the loan is paid off. The same applies for loan accounts unless the customer decides to pay an early settlement fee. Mortgage holders have also been told that they are free to move to another lender.
It is planned to close all current and credit card accounts by the end of May. The bank said the 50,000 people who have credit cards may wish to start making alternative arrangements for a new card and for clearing any outstanding balance.
Flexi Saver, Child Saver and Monthly Saver account holders will need to close accounts by May but Fixed Rate Saver account holders do not, as these will continue under existing terms.
Director of the Irish Mortgage Corporation Frank Conway said the announcement was not unexpected. “The bank has effectively been closed for new business for in excess of a year, so there has been some concern whether or not the bank could return to full lending in light of developments in the UK and the intervention by the Government there.”
He said Bank of Scotland entered the Irish market in late 1999 with “a hail of glory through the broker channel” and with competitive mortgage deals that “turned the Irish banking sector on its head”.
“At the time, they undercut their Irish rivals with variable rate mortgage deals that were about 1% cheaper than domestic bank offers.”
The bank will start contacting customers this month to explain what the branch closures mean for them. It is expected all branches will be closed by the end of June. The customer service centre in Dundalk will remain open for a short period after the closure of the retail outlets. The bank’s intermediary business which provides residential mortgages through brokers, motor finance and commercial asset finance, will also close.
The bank said any business in the pipeline that has reached formal offer stage will be honoured. Offers accepted and not yet drawn down will also be honoured.
Customers with any questions can call 1890 818181 or visit www.halifax.ie.
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