THE Government has approved new legislation aimed at regulating debt- and payment-management firms, amid growing official concern about the sector. The agencies are growing fast as consumers and households struggle to pay back their debts.
Research by Stubbs Gazette for the Sunday Independent showed earlier this month that the average consumer now owes €10,000 each – or four times more than they did in 2008, leading to a boom for the debt-collecting business.
Complaints about the agencies have been rising as a result. Despite the bust now being four years old, the area has remained largely unregulated, with no firm legislation covering it.
Among the more controversial players in the debt-collecting sector is Viper Debt Recovery and Repossession Services Ltd, owned by convicted criminal Martin 'The Viper' Foley, an associate of the late gang leader Martin Cahill.
The Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has received Cabinet clearance for new legislation which will impose stricter standards on debt managers.
The legislation will be brought forward as a committee stage amendment to the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill and will come into effect shortly.