Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne has helped expose dodgy practices by apparently foreign websites in cahoots, he believes, with some Irish companies in the unregulated field of debt management advice.

Many websites accessible through a simple Google search for “debt advice” make claims that people’s debts can be easily eliminated.

‘One of the websites, advertises that it can cut a person’s debts by up to 50% per month yet they are unwilling to provide any basic contact details for the company in Ireland’.

‘What is also very worrying is the use of MABS in the name of the website. It implies that it is authorised by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service to offer these services.’

‘I have written to MABS advising them of this situation and I expect that they will take action to protect their good name’.

However, there are other websites with various names making misleading claims and I understand that once a person gives their own contact details to these websites, these details are then transferred or sold on to Irish firms operating in the unregulated debt management field.  The Irish companies then follow up these “leads” and offer debt management advice.

‘I wrote a bill, the Regulation of Debt Management Advisors Bill 2011 a number of months ago which will be brought before the Dáil this Autumn by my party colleagues that would regulate the conduct of companies offering this type of advice,’ added Byrne.

‘However, I am calling on the National Consumer Agency to investigate these companies under current misleading advertising legislation.  The Government also need to accept my Bill next September so that in the long term, families are not put at even greater financial risk,’ concluded Byrne.