Your rights when you buy a financial product
When you open a bank account, take out a loan or sign up to other credit products and services, you are entering into a contract with the financial institution. This is a legally binding contract between you and the other party.
Just like other consumer contracts, there are certain parts of the contract that a financial institution can set. However, these terms must not go against your consumer rights and they must not be unfair. Find out more about unfair contract terms.
There is legislation in place to protect consumers by requiring financial institutions to deal with you in a fair, clear, and professional manner.
You can watch this video on what does the Central Bank do? to learn more about all of its functions.
You can also watch this video if you want to learn more about the Central Bank’s response to COVID-19.
What are conduct of business rules?
Conduct of business rules are there to protect you when you buy a financial product or service. In general, conduct of business rules require firms to:
- Act honestly, fairly and professionally
- Act in your best interest when providing products or services
- Give you the information you need to make informed decisions
- Correct errors and address any complaint you have speedily, efficiently and fairly
Central Bank Codes
The Central Bank imposes conduct of business rules through a number of consumer protection codes. They are the:
- Consumer Protection Code (and associated addenda): A set of rules that firms must follow when they provide financial products and services to you, give you financial advice, advertise products and services and handle your complaints. The Central Bank has published a consumer guide to the Consumer Protection Code (pdf).
- Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA): Rules that lenders must follow if you are in mortgage arrears and financial difficulty. Lenders must follow procedures aimed at helping you as much as possible. The Central Bank has information explaining the CCMA and how it works. You can read more in our document on consumer protection codes and mortgages.
- Consumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders Code: A set of rules that moneylenders must follow. The Central Bank has information explaining its role in protecting people who use moneylenders.
- Code of Conduct on Switching: A set of rules that all banks, payment institutions and e-money institutions must follow, designed to make switching accounts quick and easy. You can read more on opening and switching a bank account.
Rules covering consumer credit
When entering into a financial ‘consumer credit’ contract, you are protected by a range of legislation and statutory codes including:
- The Consumer Credit Act 1995
- The European Communities (Consumer Credit Agreements) Regulations 2010
- The Central Bank of Ireland’s Consumer Protection Code 2012 and the Consumer Protection Code for Licensed Moneylenders (pdf)
- There are also rules about how credit and loans can be advertised.
You can read more about these rules in our document on borrowing money.
Your Europe has more information about EU regulation of consumer credits and loans.
Rules covering mortgages
If you are applying for or already have a mortgage, your lender is subject to legislation and statutory codes including:
- The European Union (Consumer Mortgage Credit Agreements) Regulations 2016
- The Central Bank of Ireland’s Consumer Protection Code 2012
- The Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears (CCMA)
You can find out more about taking out a mortgage.
Your Europe has more information about EU regulation of mortgage loans.
The Central Bank has information on mortgage switching.
Who is responsible for enforcing the rules?
The Department of Finance is responsible for making sure that:
- There is a legal framework to properly protect consumers of financial services
- Ffinancial institutions are regulated appropriately
The Department's consumer protection role involves cooperation with the Central Bank, The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO) and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
The Central Bank: Makes sure that financial institutions are authorised (have a licence) to provide financial products and services to consumers and that they comply with a wide range of consumer protection legislation. The Central Bank can take action against firms that do not follow its rules. Find out more about the regulation of financial services. The Central Bank has an explainer on its enforcement powers. You can check that the company you are dealing with is authorised on the Central Bank’s register.
The Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman (FSPO): Was set up in January 2018 taking over the functions of the Financial Services Ombudsman’s Bureau and the Pensions Ombudsman. You can contact the FSPO if you have a complaint about a financial service provider. It is also the national contact point for FIN-NET which helps consumers resolve disputes out-of-court with financial service providers in other EU countries.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC): Is a statutory body set up to promote competition and consumer welfare and to investigate, enforce and encourage compliance with competition and consumer law in Ireland. It regulates pawnbrokers and credit intermediaries. You can contact the CCPC, if you need general consumer rights advice about financial products or services.
What if a firm goes out of business?
The Central Bank oversees a number of compensation schemes that protect you if you lose money because a financial institution going out of business. These schemes include:
- Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS): Compensates you for money lost from a current or deposit account where a bank, building society or credit union is unable to pay back your savings due to financial difficulties. The maximum you can claim under DGS is €100,000 per person, per institution. The Central Bank has a website providing more information and how to apply for the deposit guarantee scheme.
- Investor Compensation Scheme (ICS): Pays compensation
when an investment firm authorised by the Central Bank goes out of business
and is unable to repay money that you invested. These firms include
stockbrokers, investment manager, insurance brokers and agents. The maximum
you can claim per person is 90% of all deposits held by the firm, up to a
maximum of €20,000.
The ICS is operated by the Investor Compensation Company Ltd (ICCL).
- Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF): Protects you when authorised non-life (also known as general) insurance companies go into liquidation and are unable to pay insurance claims. This covers general insurance policies such as car or home insurance and excludes life or health insurance. The maximum you can claim under the ICF is 65% of the cost of the insurance claim or €825,000, whichever is lower. You can read more detailed information about the Insurance Compensation Fund (pdf).
The Central Bank has more information about compensation schemes.
How to make a complaint
If you have a complaint about a financial service provider you should take the following steps:
- Make a complaint to the person who you normally deal with at the bank, credit union, insurance company or other financial services firm.
- If you are not satisfied with the response from the firm, you should put your complaint in writing. (Contact details should be available from the bank or by looking at their website).
- If you are still not happy, you can take your complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.
Read more about how to complain about a financial product or service.