Polish banks could be fined for mortgage holidays

Polish banks could face fines of up to 10% of their annual turnover if they prevent mortgage holders from taking advantage of payment holidays, the country’s consumer watchdog said on Tuesday (July 26th).

The payment holiday scheme, effective from Friday July 29, is intended to help mortgage owners whose monthly payments have risen due to rising interest rates, allowing them to skip a maximum of eight payments in 2022 and 2023.

Tomasz Chróstny, head of Poland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Office (UOKiK), said some banks had tried to discourage customers from taking payment holidays by telling them it could affect their creditworthiness in the future. ‘coming.

He also said some banks complicated the process with heavy layers of bureaucracy.

“If banks do not immediately change their practices aimed at making it difficult for consumers to take advantage of credit holidays, they should expect to face complaints and their consequences,” he said in a statement. .

The banking industry has criticized the payment holiday scheme, Reuters reported, with some saying access to payment holidays should be limited to borrowers in the most difficult financial situations, to avoid excessive costs for banks.

Moreover, some economists have said the program will also serve to stoke inflation which has already reached a 25-year high of 15.5%.

Unlike many other countries, Poland has a single authority responsible for consumer protection and regulating market competitiveness. As a result, many Polish banks are scrutinized by the UOKiK on several fronts.

See also: Polish Antitrust Office Alleges Santander, BNP Paribas and 3 Others Breached Rules

Earlier this month, the authority filed a complaint against five banks which it said acted against the interests of consumers. Bank Millennium, BNP Paribas Bank Polska, Credit Agricole Bank Polska, mBank and Santander Bank Polska now risk fines for “harming the collective interests of consumers”.

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