Fianna Fáil has published legislation to stop bogus debt management agencies from taking advantage of families struggling with debt.
The Debt Management Advisors Bill, debated in the Dáil this week, has been accepted in principle by the Government.
Dublin North East Senator Averil Power says hundreds of cases have emerged in Dublin recently of people in serious debt being targeted by unscrupulous cowboy operators claiming to provide easy solutions.
Senator Power said, “People who are under major financial pressure have signed up to agreements which they thought would improve their situation. In reality however the deals have involved extremely high interest rates and exorbitant handling fees for the debt management companies. Ultimately, many people have found that far from managing their current debt better, they have actually ended up in a much worse position.
“At the moment, debt advisors are not regulated. While some firms have a positive reputation for providing transparent and professional services, there is no doubt that unscrupulous operators are taking advantage of people. The proposals that Fianna Fáil has presented to the Dáil would ensure better protection for consumers. All debt advisors would be authorised and regulated by the Central Bank and have to abide by new rules.
“Given that the Government has accepted our proposals in principle, I hope that they will be brought into law as soon as possible.
“In the meantime, I would like to remind people to be very careful when signing up to debt management deals. I would also like to highlight the fact that the State-funded Money Advice and Budgeting Service can provide free money management advice. A wide range of information is available on their website at www.mabs.ie and their helpline number is 0761 07200.”