Make it easier to get payment holidays or risk fines, Polish watchdog tells banks

WARSAW, July 26 (Reuters) – 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 watchdog said on Tuesday. consumer surveillance, a few days before the entry into force of the program. in force.

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

However, Tomasz Chrostny, head of Polish consumer watchdog UOKiK, said some banks had tried to discourage customers from taking payment holidays by telling them it could affect their creditworthiness in the future.

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He also said some banks complicate the process by providing too many different forms to fill out.

“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. .

UOKiK will analyze how the program is implemented in 16 Polish banks, he said. If irregularities are found, banks could face fines of up to 10% of their annual revenue.

The banking industry has criticized the scheme, saying access to payment holidays should be limited to borrowers in the most difficult financial situation to avoid excessive costs for banks.

Some economists say the program will also serve to stoke inflation which has already hit a 25-year high of 15.5%. Read more

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Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Susan Fenton

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Elaine R. Knight