To Bank of Spain and the ministries of Economy and Health

FACUA reports 13 banks for raising obstacles to submit complaints against the base lending rate

More than 21,000 consumers with mortgages have already joined the association's web platform to fight for their money.

FACUA reports 13 banks for raising obstacles to submit complaints against the base lending rate

FACUA-Consumers in Action has reported 13 banks for irregularities related to the Royal Decree-Law of the base lending rate approved last January. Almost all the cases are related to raising obstacles to those consumers who want to submit complaints against the base lending rate.

FACUA has reported these institutions to the Bank of Spain, the Ministry of Economy and the Consumer, Food Safety and Nutrition Agency (Aecosan, according to its initials in Spanish) of the Ministry of Health. Banks are imposing consumers a series of steps that obstacle their right to complain and are not a requirement of the current legislation. The banks reported are Bankia, Caixabank, Abanca, Banca March, Banco Pastor, Popular, Sabadell, Laboral Kutxa, Credifimo, Banca Pueyo, Banco Mare Nostrum (BMN), Banco Caminos and España Duero.

The association warns that banks not only had four months to avoid being sued thanks to the royal decree agreed by PP, PSOE and Ciudadanos, but many of them are also trying to delay the lawsuits even more by rejecting the complaints sent by consumers themselves or by consumers associations and law firms on their behalf.

The first reports were submitted by FACUA two months and a half ago, but Bank of Spain, Aecosan nor the Ministry of Economy have not announced or publicly informed yet of the measures they are taking to stop these irregularities.

But also, the autonomous communities have not announced yet fines against banks who introduced the abusive base lending rates in their mortgages in the first place. This caused FACUA's denounce against 20 banks four years ago. They have neither fined banks for refusing to refund all the money irregularly charged to consumers.

Only banks' forms are accepted

In almost all the cases reported, banks refuse to accept complaints which have not been filled using their own forms. They force consumers to go to their offices personally even if they live in towns where there are no branches –in many cases due to the massive closure of offices during the crisis- or if they are elderly, handicapped or people with other difficulties to move.

In addition, banks forms limit consumers to write their complaints, since they may not have space to describe all the facts or explain the legal basis they are using to make their complaint.

FACUA also warns that Royal Decree-Law 1/2017, of 20 of January, does not limit the means that consumers can use to submit their complaints. By doing so, banks are breaching the General Law for the Defence of Consumer Rights, that on article 21 states that complaints must be made in writing through two procedures: the first is a postal address and the second, to be chosen by the entity, an email or a fax number.

La Caixa offers only the amounts charged since May 2013

La Caixa is proposing consumers an extra court agreement that states they will only refund the amounts charged after May 2013 and that, if consumers agree, the agreement will be definitive and cannot be appealed. This bank is offering consumers complaint forms where they imply that CJEU has not ruled yet –despite there's a sentence of the last December- and therefore there is no obligation to refund all the money irregularly charged.

Bankia, Banca Pueyo, BMN, Caixabank, España Duero, Popular and Sabadell do not accept complaint forms sent to their offices, they only accept them if consumers bring them in person to their offices and fill their own forms.

After accepting the complaint forms, Laboral Kutxa forces consumers to go personally to one of their offices to be able to access the extra court proceedings stated in their Royal Decree.

Meanwhile, Banco Caminos forces consumers to bring a copy of the deed of the mortgage, despite the bank itself has a copy of it.

For those cases in which they accept to refund the money illegally charged due to the base lending rate, Banco Pastor forces consumers to abandon the right to complain because of any other irregularity that their mortgage might have.

Popular, meanwhile, rejects FACUA's complaints on behalf of its associates making out that they are not personalised.

Abanca refunds the legal interests only from 21 December 2016, instead of calculating them from the beginning of the implementation of the base lending rate.

The complaint form used by Credifimo includes that consumers authorise the bank to request the cancelation of any court proceedings that might be on.

Finally, Banca March rejects refunding the money using a reason of unknown meaning: "redundancy negotiated".

More than 21,000 consumers with mortgages have joined FACUA's web platform

More than 21,000 consumers with mortgages have already joined FACUA's web platform to receive advice on how to claim back the overages of the base lending rate fraud and the overcharge of mortgage's formalization, using the website, FACUA.org/hipotecastrampa (in Spanish). FACUA's legal team have opened thousands of complaints files, that for the base lending rate cases have to be submitted using the extra court system stated in the royal decree.

FACUA has also started suing banks in those cases where they are refusing to refund all the money –plus legal interests- overcharged due to base lending rate and mortgage’s formalization.