BEWARE of bankers bearing gifts.
That is the warning coming from consumer groups after the banks came over all consumer-friendly and started offering to do deals with heavily indebted households.
They are now offering to write off some unsecured debt, in return for most of what money there is left in a struggling household going towards the mortgage.
Almost five years into the financial crisis, with hardly a week passing without someone in the Central Bank criticising lenders for not doing deals with those in mortgage arrears, are the banks finally seeing sense?
Don't be silly. The banks are doing what the banks always do – they are aggressively protecting their backs.
It is no coincidence that the new initiative, brokered by the Irish Banking Federation, comes just months ahead of new personal insolvency rules coming into force.
The new insolvency regime will replace the outdated bankruptcy system with court-approved deals between borrowers and banks, with some debt written off if an agreed payment agreement is kept over a five-year period.
Heavily indebted consumers will be represented by a personal insolvency practitioner.
But there will be nobody to represent the consumer under the initiative launched by the banks this week, David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders' Organisation has asserted.
He maintains that any system where the lenders are in charge will fail.
So consumers would be well advised to treat this offer from the banks with some scepticism.