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Wednesday 30 July 2014

PTSB admits blunder in customer payments data

Donal O'Donovan

Published 05/10/2012|05:00

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Photo: Martin Nolan

ALL bank customers are being urged to check their credit histories after it emerged that a second lender provided incorrect information about missed loan repayments to the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB).

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There are now calls for the information errors to form part of a wider enquiry into banking standards.

Permanent TSB (PTSB) has confirmed that it has identified errors in some customer information it supplied to the ICB. In August it was revealed that AIB had provided incorrect data about the accounts of at least 12,000 customers to the ICB over six years.

PTSB said it is now reviewing the information it provided to the ICB about customers who may have missed a loan repayment due to be repaid on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

In some cases those missed payments may have been incorrectly classed as being a month behind, instead of a week.

In AIB's case the error arose because computer systems could not differentiate between different periods in arrears.

The ICB is not supposed to keep track of arrears of less than a month.

That is the same error identified earlier at AIB.

The issue of false credit histories was first uncovered there in May and became public in August. That prompted a wider investigation by the Office of the Data Commissioner, which has been auditing a sample mix of banks and credit unions over the past two months.

Yesterday, the Data Commissioner confirmed that its investigators are seeing the same issue crop up at a number of lenders but declined to name banks and building societies affected until the review is completed.

That's expected to happen within weeks, when a report on the matter will be published.

PTSB said it apologised unreservedly for the problem, and is taking immediate steps to correct the errors.

Any error in information held by the ICB is serious for borrowers because banks and other lenders use the data to determine who they will lend to.

Taxpayers

The ICB, which is owned by a mix of banks, gathers information for most lenders who then decide whether to lend money to customers based on the data.

Credit unions, consumer finance houses, credit-card companies and mortgage lenders all rely in the information.

The fact that taxpayer-saved banks were making errors on the credit histories of customers showed how little regard banks have for those who rescued them, Labour senator Lorraine Higgins said.

"Despite the enormous contribution that taxpayers have made in recapitalising the banks, this latest news shows customers remain at the bottom of their priorities," said Ms Higgins.

She said this latest controversy and the Ulster Bank computer systems crash showed the need for an inquiry by the Oireachtas into banking.

The Data Commissioner is investigating because the commissioner, Billy Hawkes, is in charge of policing institutions that hold personal information about individuals.

He said he is surprised by how widespread the issue of misreporting of credit histories was. The Commissioner also expressed surprise at the length of time failures went for and said he is "disturbed" by what his office has found.

Irish Independent

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