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Banks report surge in calls from mortgage holders seeking info on three-month payment break


 (stock photo)

(stock photo)

(stock photo)

BANKS have reported a surge in calls from mortgage holders seeking information on the three-month payment break.

The banks said they are taking an average of 7,000 calls a day from customers inquiring about the mortgage payment break.

All the banks, non-bank lenders and the credit-servicing companies that manage thousands of loans for vulture funds have signed up to the deal, after talks with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. The aim is to help those impacted financially by Covid-19.

But mortgage experts said the operation of the new scheme was characterised by confusion and misinformation.

David Hall of the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation said the situation was “completely chaotic”.

He said the banks have not briefed staff on the scheme, and there was an attempt by some banks and lenders to avoid offering the three-month payment break and offer people the likes of interest-only deals instead.

He said such an option would be cheaper for mortgage providers.

Mr Hall called on the Central Bank to intervene to sort out the situation.

And personal insolvency practitioner Mitchell O’Brien said there was confusion among lenders about the new option for people hit by Covid-19 job losses.

“This demonstrates that banks don’t really understand what this is all about. They don’t have a box to tick on this so they tend to freeze,” he said.

Some customers are being told they only qualify for interest-only payments.

Others are being told they need savings if they are to get a three-month payment break.

Some lenders are telling customers they are not offering the payment break despite tell the minister it was being offered.

The head of the Banking and Payment Federation admitted there were “teething problems” with the mortgage break plans.

Brian Hayes said banks are taking an average of 7,000 calls a day from customers inquiring about the mortgage payment break.

And this does not include non-bank lenders and the credit service firms for vultures.

He said overall there was a 400pc increase in calls from both mortgage holders and companies worried about the economic impact of the virus.

He said that the problems being encountered by those inquiring about the mortgage payment break scheme should be ironed out by the weekend.

“People don’t need to be hassled by this. If there are issues we are working on them,” he said.

Mr Hayes also said banks were working on proposal to pay back money to people who have lost their jobs if their mortgage payment was taken out of their account before they were approved for a three-month payment break.

Bank staff were being reallocated from different parts of the banking system to cope with the surge in demand for information on mortgage payment breaks, he said.

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