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Danish banks 'broke rules' to collect overdue repayments from customers

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish banks 'broke rules' to collect overdue repayments from customers
Danish banks have incorrectly collected debts from thousands of customers according to an investigative report by two Danish media. File photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Some of Denmark’s largest banks repeatedly broke rules when collecting overdue repayments from customers, according to media reports.

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Tens of thousands of customers at major banks including Nordea, Jyske Bank and Nykredit could be affected by the issue, according to reports by broadcaster TV2 and newspaper Berlingske.

Extensive mistakes at the banks' debt departments mean that affected customers may either be owed money or need to have their debts adjusted, according to the reports.

The customers affected are those considered to be inkassokunder, meaning those who have repeatedly failed to meet repayments despite reminders.

Documentation sent from eight major banks to the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finanstilsynet) provided to the two media under an access to information request, is reported to show debt collection by banks in breach of banking rules.

The banks have demanded repayment of debt that may have lapsed, was calculated incorrectly or which was never loaned by the customers.

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Similar errors were found by the two media at Danske Bank in 2020. This led to the Financial Supervisory Authority initiating a wider review of debt collection processes in the Danish banking sector.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Danish banks’ policies on non-Danish speaking customers

The mistakes were found to be most frequent at Nordea, Jyske Bank and but also found at further banks, taking in Arbejdernes Landsbank, Lån og Spar Bank, Sparekassen Sjælland-Fyn, Jyske Realkredit and Jyske Finans.

The three former banks said they “regret” the mistakes, with Nordea estimating 154,000 customers could be affected according to TV2.

The industry organisation for banks, Finans Danmark, told TV2 and Berlingske in written comments that it was sorry for the mistakes and “it is our impression that the banks in question are working diligently to solve the challenges”.

Arbejdernes Landsbank, Lån og Spar Bank and Sparekassen Sjælland-Fyn told the two media the errors had now been corrected.

The senior economist with consumer rights group Forbrugerrådet, Morten Bruun Pedersen, told Berlingske that “broad” extent of the errors in the finance sector was concerning.

“There is no grip on limitation periods and principle sums, interest and fees are all clumped together. That surprises me a lot because this actually a quite clearly regulated area,” he said.

The rules are at the core of debt collection in the banking sector and banks must “simply know what they are”, he said.

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