Thousands may be unaware they are victims of tracker controversy

Central Bank issues warning over overcharging

Hazel Melbourne and Thomas Ryan, victims of the tracker mortgage scandal, speak to the Oireachtas finance committee.

 

Thousands of homeowners wrongly pushed off tracker mortgages by their banks may still be unaware that they are being overcharged, the Central Bank has warned.

Delivering its latest report, the Financial Regulator said the numbers caught up in the controversy have jumped by 23 per cent to 13,000 in the last six months, and will rise further.

However, it warned that some mortgage-holders have not yet been told they were wrongly not offered a tracker rate when they came off a fixed-rate interest term, or were charged too much for one if they were. “Two lenders may have failed to identify populations of impacted customer or failed to recognise that certain customers have been impacted by their failures,” it declared.

Saying it believed some of these mortgage-holders have been overcharged, the Central Bank said the two unnamed lenders were “reconsidering” the numbers they have already given to its inquiry.

Central Bank

The two “are due to revert to the Central Bank by end October 2017”. It went on: “As the Central Bank progresses its assurance work, other lenders will be similarly challenged.”

Based on its challenges and the banks’ investigations, the regulator said it expected the total number of homeowners impacted by the scandal to rise significantly, possibly to over 20,000. It has now uncovered 23 cases where homes were lost as a result of the banks’ actions and a further 79 buy-to-let properties.

While lenders have rectified the interest rates on 7,700 accounts, compensation has been much less forthcoming. Just 25 per cent of customers have been compensated after they were wrongly taken off tracker mortgages and just three lenders out of 15 have started redress programmes.

The Central Bank defended the pace of its inquiry which started more than two years ago. It blamed banks for “material deficiencies” which “necessitated [it] to challenge lenders repeatedly to improve their proposals”.