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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Credit holidays - summary of actions taken by UOKiK

< previous | next > 29.06.2020

Credit holidays - summary of actions taken by UOKiK
  • As a result of actions taken by the Office, consumers are receiving clear and accurate information regarding the cost of a non-legislative moratorium, the so-called commercial credit holidays, and the ability to opt out of such a solution.
  • “The non-legislative credit holidays are not a free solution, therefore the consumer should have full, accurate and clear information regarding the consequences of deferring the repayment of instalments,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of UOKiK.
  • Banks have adjusted to the Office's remarks or declared that they would change unfavourable practices within the indicated timeframe.

At the beginning of April, the President of UOKiK, Tomasz Chróstny, initiated explanatory proceedings concerning the terms and conditions of the so-called credit holidays, which are voluntarily granted by banks. The Office verified, among other things, the way in which consumers are informed about the cost associated with the deferral of repayment of instalments, whether the right to opt out of changes regarding such deferral introduced to the loan agreement is being respected and whether consumers are informed of that right. The proceedings covered 26 banks. Irregularities were identified in the case of 14 banks to which the notifications were sent - the vast majority of them responded positively to the reservations raised by the President of the Office.

“We have eliminated terms and conditions unfavourable for borrowers who decided to use the so-called credit holidays voluntarily offered by banks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Consumers have the right to opt out of changes to the agreement within 14 days, they are informed of that right and know the costs associated with the suspension of instalment repayments offered voluntarily by banks. However, we will continue to monitor the situation so as to ensure that consumer rights are observed at every stage,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of the Office.

The President of the Office questioned the following in the explanatory proceedings:

  • The absence of sufficient and clear information regarding the financial consequences of deferring the repayment of instalments, presented prior to the decision to use commercial credit holidays – e.g. the instalment amount after the credit holidays, rules for the accrual of interest. Information regarding the costs associated with this solution must be accurate and exhaustive, so that the consumer is able to make a conscious decision to suspend the repayment of instalments. It must also be provided to borrowers at the initial stage of the process.
  • Failure to inform customers or insufficient information provided before entry into an annex or the introduction of amendments to the agreement regarding the possibility of withdrawal within 14 days or reduction of this period to the detriment of the consumer. This time limit should be counted from the moment when the consumer is informed about actual financial consequences of the credit holiday. A statement of withdrawal from the agreement may be delivered in person, by traditional mail and by electronic mail.
  • Provisions suggesting that the consumer accepted a specific debt balance arising from the agreement. They may have violated good practices as they force the submission of a statement that has nothing to do with the purpose of signing an annex, i.e. the deferral of instalment payments. They could have also made it more difficult for consumers to exercise their rights in court in the future. Read the Office's legal opinion on this matter.

Banks have already eliminated the identified irregularities or declared the implementation of the required corrections within the agreed timeframe. The Office will monitor whether those declarations have been observed. Santander Bank Polska and Bank BNP Paribas, whose additional provisions to the agreements raised the greatest reservations, were the first to respond positively to the reservations raised by the Office. In the course of pending proceedings, those banks have withdrawn the contested provisions and issued a statement that they will not interpret annexes as the confirmation of the amount of debt by the borrower. We consider these actions to be beneficial for borrowers. Read the Office’s communication on this matter.

Statutory credit holidays

Due to the fact that commercial credit holidays offered by bank in many instances were not addressed to those who actually need help, i.e. those who lost their job or main source of income due to the coronavirus epidemic, and additionally could have led to greater credit burdens placed on consumers, the legislator – with the involvement of UOKiK – has prepared a legal solution in this matter. Credit holidays have been introduced in the Act on Interest Rate Subsidies for Bank Loans Granted to Provide Financial Liquidity to Enterprises Affected by the Effects of COVID-19 and Amending Certain Other Acts, which has been signed by the President of the Republic of Poland on June 22nd.

Each borrower who lost their main source of income will be able to suspend the repayment of a mortgage and consumer loan for a period of up to 3 months. It is a free solution – the only fee will be the continuation of insurance premiums to ensure continued coverage. This is actual help provided to borrowers that allows them to maintain financial stability in a situation where household income has deteriorated,” says Tomasz Chróstny, President of the Office.

Statutory credit holidays will be available to those who lost their job or main source of income after 13 March 2020. The repayment will be suspended for no more than 3 months after the lender is served a relevant application. The Bank will not charge fees or interest for using credit holidays. The repayment period for the entire debt will be extended by the period of “holidays” taken. According to the draft regulations, a credit holiday may be taken when the loan agreement was signed prior to 13 March 2020 and when its term falls at least 6 months after that date.

Consumer! Should you have any doubts or suspect a breach of law, you can contact the Helpline at 801 440 220 and 22 290 89 16 or write an e-mail at the following address: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]. Legal aid provided by phone and e-mail is financed from the funds of UOKiK. You may also notify the Office about actions taken by banks by submitting a notification to [SCODE]bW9uaXRvcmluZ0B1b2tpay5nb3YucGw=[ECODE].

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or +48 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
E-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer ombudsmen – in your town or district
Regional Consumer Centres: 22 299 60 90 – Dlakonsumenta.pl

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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