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 system comprises entities whose mission is to inform, advise and assist bank customers at risk of default or already in arrears on credit instalments.

Access to these entities is free of charge.

 

Scope of action

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

  • 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 proposals presented by credit institutions under the pre-arrears action plan (PRAP) and the OASP, namely whether they are suited to the customers’ financial situation, objectives and needs;

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

  • To provide information on indebtedness and over-indebtedness;

  • To support bank customers in their creditworthiness assessment.

These entities may not:

  • Interact with credit institutions as representatives or on behalf ofbank customers, for example when the latter are negotiating the proposals presented under the PRAP and the OASP;

  • Adopt reconciliation, mediation or arbitration mechanisms to obtain agreements between bank customers and credit institutions.

Intervention 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 provided relates. Bank customers must inform the entities of this fact.

 

Operating principles

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

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

Customers are advised and assited on a confidential basis. All employees and staff of the entities making up the assistance network for indebted consumers and that participate in the process are bound by professional secrecy.

 

Entities making up 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 presented through a form provided on the Consumer Website (Executive Order No 2/2013 of 2 January 2013) of that Directorate-General.

The accredited entities are published on the Consumer Website of the Directorate-General for Consumers and on this website.