New credit register goes live, but not for car finance plans

Central Bank collecting data on overdrafts, personal loans, credit cards and mortgages

The Central Bank is expected to publish in due course a list of lenders complying with the register. Photograph: PA Wire

The Central Bank is expected to publish in due course a list of lenders complying with the register. Photograph: PA Wire

 

It has been a while in coming, but the Central Bank’s new central credit register will finally go live on Tuesday. However, the register is not expected to include personal contract plans used for car purchases and hire-purchase deals for some time yet.

Created under the auspices of the Credit Reporting Act 2013, the register is set to replace the current credit register – operated by the Irish Credit Bureau – with a more comprehensive and broader database assessing the creditworthiness of borrowers.

It had been expected that the initial phase of the register, which was requested by the International Monetary Fund as part of 2010’s financial assistance programme, would be up and running by 2016.

The Central Bank started collecting data on overdrafts, personal loans, credit cards and mortgages worth more than €500 from about 300 lenders last June, and this data will inform the first credit reports. From March 31st, data from local authorities, moneylenders and business loans will also be included.

Household items such as televisions and sofas bought under hire purchase will fall outside the register because of a lacuna in the legislation governing the regime.

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, recently told the Dáil that a legislative proposal on the issue “will be brought forward in the very near future” to amend this.

The second milestone in the creation of the new register will come at the end of September, when it will be mandatory for lenders to get credit reports from it before they approve a loan for €2,000 or more for consumers. Finally, in March 2019 it will be mandatory for lenders to access the register for business loans of €2,000 or more.

Get your credit history

Consumers will be able to request a copy of their credit history online, for free, from Tuesday but will need several items of identification, such as a driver’s licence or passport, utility bill and proof of PPS number to do so. However, one piece of information you can’t use is the new public services card, because it appears that the governing legislation precludes this.

It is expected that consumers will receive their reports within a few days of making a request, depending on demand for the service.

Consumers will be able to seek an amendment where information is incorrect, or to ask for the inclusion of a 200-word explanatory statement if they wish to outline why they were behind on a loan, for example. Consumers will also have the right to include a notice of “expected impersonation” . This would alert lenders when consumers fear their identify may have been stolen.

The Central Bank is expected to publish the list of lenders complying with the register in due course. If a lender doesn’t submit data to the register, then they, in turn, won’t be able to access it.

The initiative marks the first time the Central Bank has carried out such work, and it is understood to have 10 employees working on the register in conjunction with Italian data credit-tracking provider CRIF, which it appointed in 2014 to operate the system.

Irish Credit Bureau

Information in this area was previously collated by the Irish Credit Bureau, owned by the major Irish banks as well as credit card providers and credit unions, which charged €6 for a report. It’s understood that this organisation will be wound down over time, although it may remain in use in the short term for verifying car finance deals.

The new regime distinguishes itself in its mandatory nature – lenders have a legal obligation to report data – while its scope is also set to be much broader, encompassing not just regulated providers.

Moreover, consumers no longer have to give consent for their information to be passed on to the credit register; it will just go automatically.