The Deputy may wish to note that the Central Bank’s website sets out information on the types of entities which require an authorisation to provide credit, including mortgages, such as credit institutions, credit unions and retail credit firms. It also sets out information on entities which require authorisation to advise on and intermediate between mortgage credit providers and consumers i.e. mortgage credit intermediaries. The Central Bank’s website also includes registers of all firms regulated by the Central Bank.
Consumers that engage with an unauthorised firm may lose the protections of regulation and the consumer protection framework. For example:
- the Consumer Protection Code (CPC) or Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) would not apply;
- consumers may lose access to protections such as the Deposit Guarantee Scheme, the Investor Compensation Fund, the Insurance Compensation Fund and the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO).
In addition, the directors and senior management of unregulated firms are not subject to the Fitness and Probity Regime and unregulated firms are not subject to prudential requirements such as regulatory capital requirements or safeguarding of client funds.
The Central Bank encourages consumers to take the SAFE test www.centralbank.ie/consumer-hub/explainers/how-can-i-avoid-a-financial-services-scam before dealing with financial services firms.
The Central Bank advises that it has a dedicated unit, the 'Unauthorised Providers Unit', which investigates alleged instances of unauthorised activity carried out by individuals or entities that are not authorised or regulated by the Central Bank. Members of the public can report alleged instances of unauthorised activity through the Central Bank’s website or directly by telephone. Details for making reports are contained at www.centralbank.ie/regulation/how-we-regulate/authorisation/unauthorised-firms. All instances of alleged unauthorised activity are investigated in full by the Central Bank. However, the Central Bank has also advised that it is bound by strict statutory obligations of confidentiality and therefore is precluded from commenting on the specific investigations it undertakes.