Debt firms hounding those with no cash, says SVP chief

PRIVATE debt collection companies are “hounding people” who have nothing and putting them under huge pressure, the southern regional president of St Vincent de Paul has warned.

Brendan Dempsey said debt collectors are a “huge problem” and the law seems to be on the side of the banks, which can harass people non-stop.

“They are phoning them three times a day, calling to their house. I know one person who does not even have her house anymore, she has lost everything, so what is the point of it?”

Referring to the case, Mr Dempsey said one bank has three debt collection agencies chasing the person.

“This person has lost a home and a business, has no income and is being fed by the SVP. All the laws seem to be on the side of the financial institutions, and they won’t take no for an answer.”

There is no regulation governing the operation of private debt collection agencies.

But there are rules covered by the Consumer Credit Act 1995.

Under the Central Bank’s Consumer Protection Code a lender cannot phone you or visit you in connection with your loan without your consent between 9pm and 9am on weekdays, or at any time on a Sunday or public holiday.

A lender is not permitted to call you or to visit you at your place of work unless you are also living there, or unless all reasonable efforts to contact you elsewhere have failed.

Mr Dempsey said things for people who are self-employed are “dire”.

“They are literally living on charity. We are feeding them and paying their ESB bills... After about 15-20 weeks they can go on a supplementary welfare allowance payment, but they are really struggling until that happens.”

Mr Dempsey said the social welfare system is not fair and seems to be needlessly harsh on the very people relying on it. He said that in one case a woman who was working three days a week and who was getting social welfare payments for the rest, had been deducted for bank holidays over the past few weeks.


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