Q I have a personal loan with a bank. Last night, one of their staff called to my home at 8.30pm to demand a meeting to discuss the loan that has been in arrears for months. Is this allowed?
A You are referring to the Consumer Credit Act 1995, I presume to Section 46, which provides some protection from a creditor or a person acting on his behalf from visiting or telephoning a consumer at his/her home or place of employment or business. The protection is there unless the consumer resides at that place and all reasonable efforts to make contact have failed.
There is nothing prohibiting a bank visiting your home, but they cannot call on a Sunday or public holiday or after 9pm. Secondly, these provisions only apply where the consumer hasn't given consent to being contacted at work or contacting any member of their family. The protection is therefore far from absolute. It means a person is free to give consent to being contacted or having their family contacted.
You may ask why anybody in their right mind would consent to this? The answer is very simple: the bank's standard terms and conditions required to take out the loan will invariably give the lender this "consent", rendering the protection virtually useless. You want the loan, you sign the agreement.
The moral is: keep in touch with your creditors.
Corporate Deposit Accounts
Q My company has up to €25,000 in a deposit account in the bank and it could be there for up to three months. My bank will only offer 0.5pc. Do deposit takers want company money?
A They certainly do and yes, there is discrimination between personal deposits and company or "corporate" deposits. As with personal deposits, the first issue is safety -- will the money be secure? Best returns are next. Irish Nationwide are currently tops for corporate deposits offering fixed terms from first week (2.75pc currently) to 12 months (3.3pc)
After September, fixed terms in Irish deposit takers such as INBS are being afforded guarantees for those fixed terms. Other competitive rates include EBS's 12-month fixed corporate deposit at 3pc and Investec's 12-month fixed rate of 2.5pc. If you have more than €250,000 and can put it away for up to 12 months, the Permanent TSB corporate deposit section will give you 3pc.
Whatever you do, don't accept poor interest rates.