Banking error may hurt customers' chances of getting a loan for five years
A breach of the new Central Credit Register by Ulster Bank has resulted in some customers having their data accessed multiple times in error, leaving a "digital footprint" which cannot be removed for five years and may affect future loan applications.
The bank said: "We recently wrote to a small number of customers who, following a personal loan application, were the subject of multiple credit enquiry requests to the Central Credit Registry (CCR) and the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB).
"These requests were made in error due to a third party issue beyond our control. This error had no impact on their Ulster Bank application and we sincerely apologise to those affected customers."
But one customer believes his request for a car loan was turned down because of the incident.
Johnny Fallon, a PR executive, says he received a letter from Ulster Bank "out of the blue" after he made an application for a car loan in July.
"It was a comedy of errors from the start," he said. "The bank needed more and more information from me and my wife and despite verbal assurances the loan would be successful, it was rejected."
He says the rejection came after the bank checked the Central Credit Register -which is legally required since September 2018 for all loan applications over €2,000 - and in frustration he turned to Bank of Ireland.
"They had the money in my account within 48 hours, no problem," he said.
The letter from Ulster Bank stated the error "may have had an adverse effect on your CCR and ICB credit report and any other lending application that you may have applied for during this time … you will see the multiple footprints on the report for up to five years".
After receiving the letter, Mr Fallon emailed the bank but got no response. On contacting them again they apologised and said they were "not sure" how many customers had been affected and were unable to tell him who accessed the CCR or why. He has since made a formal complaint in writing.
The Central Bank confirmed it had been notified of the error by Ulster Bank.
"We understand the lender in question had a valid reason for accessing the credit report, but in fact recorded two applications, and two footprints instead of one," it said.
"The second [duplicate] credit application has been removed and the correct position is reflected. In the interests of transparency, the footprint remains, as it properly reflects that two enquiries were made, albeit one was a duplicate."
The "footprint", which is seen if any future lender accesses the CCR, remains for five years and cannot be removed.
"I'm worried now if I ever go for a loan in the future," says Mr Fallon.
The Central Credit Register requires all lenders to update customer information for credit applications over €500 under the Credit Reporting Act 2013. The CCR was set up under the conditions of the EU/IMF bailout.