Assistance network for indebted consumers

Bank customers who face difficulties in complying with their obligations under credit agreements may use the assistance network for indebted consumers.

This network is made up of entities whose mission is to inform, advise and assist bank customers who are at risk of default or who already have instalments in arrears.

Access to these entities is free of charge.

 

Scope of action

The entities making up the assistance network for indebted consumers have the following remit:

  • To inform bank customers about their rights and duties in pre-arrears situations and under the out-of-court arrears settlement procedure (OASP);

  • To assist bank customers in analysing the proposals presented by credit institutions under the pre-arrears action plan (PRAP) and the OASP, for example by assessing suitability of the proposals for the customers’ financial situation, objectives and needs;

  • To work with the bank customers when negotiating with the credit institutions over proposals submitted under PRAP and OASP;

  • To provide information on indebtedness and over-indebtedness;

  • To support bank customers in assessing their creditworthiness.

These entities cannot:

  • Interact with credit institutions in representation or on behalf of the bank customer, for example when negotiating the proposals submitted under the PRAP and the OASP;

  • Adopt reconciliation, mediation or arbitration mechanisms to obtain agreements between the bank customer and the credit institution.

The work of the entities making up the assistance network for indebted consumers ends if legal proceedings are proposed by the credit institution involved in the credit agreement to which the assistance refers. The bank customer must inform the entity accordingly.

 

Operating principles

The entities making up the assistance network for indebted consumers must obey principles of independence, impartiality, lawfulness and transparency.

The assistance provide to bank customers must be swift and must follow criteria of high technical rigour.

The advising and assisting of bank customers are confidential. All employees and staff of the entities making up the assistance network for indebted consumers and that participate in these procedures are subject to professional secrecy.

 

Entities that form part of the assistance network for indebted consumers

The assistance network for indebted consumers is made up of legal entities, governed by public or private law, accredited by the Directorate-General for Consumers, following an opinion issued by Banco de Portugal.

The request for accreditaion is submitted through the form available on the Consumer Website (Ordinance No. 2/2013, of 2 January) of that Directorate-General.

Accredited entities are disclosed on the Consumer Website of the Directorate-General for Consumers and on this website.