Department of social protection
The department of social protection handles all social welfare payments. It has decentralised offices which deal with certain state benefits.
The Citizens Information Centres are a great source of information regarding your social welfare benefits.
They have offices throughout the country and operate a website which is a very good starting point for research on benefits.
The Financial Regulator
The consumer aspect of the financial regulator has been moved to The National Consumer Agency. See Consumer Rights section below.
The Financial Services Ombudsman
The Financial Services Ombudsman has legal powers to deal with complaints from consumers about their individual dealings with all financial services providers that have not been resolved by the providers.
The service is free.
Types of complaints the ombudsman’s office have looked at in the past include mortgage fees, insurance pay-out disputes, maternity benefit claims, life assurance disputes and disputes over over-charging of insurance premiums.
The current ombudsman is Emily O’Reilly.
An ombudsman investigates complaints from members of the public who feel they have been unfairly treated by certain organisations. His/her office is impartial and independent. If he/she finds a complaint is justified he/she will take steps to secure redress for the complainant.
The Office of the Ombudsman investigates complaints about the administrative actions of Government Departments, the Health Service Executive, local authorities and An Post.
By the end of 2008 approximately 72,000 valid complaints had been handled by the Office. In addition, at present the Office deals with up to 10,000 queries from the public every year.
The Irish Insurance Federation
The Irish Insurance Federation, the representative body for insurance companies, operate the Insurance Information Service.
This is a free service for members of the public and it can assist you with your insurance queries or liase with a member company on any issue or complaint you may have with them.
It does not have any statutory power and should you need to take your complaint further, they will advice you on which statutory body is appropriate.
You can make a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman, which provides independent settlement of disputes between personal policyholders and their insurance company.
Irish Insurance Federation
39 Molesworth Street
Tel: 01 676 1820
The National Consumer Agency
The rights of consumers are protected by both Irish and European law. The National Consumer Agency is a source of free and impartial advice on consumer law that is enshrined in Irish law.
It covers everything from advice on shopping rights to information on the law regarding poor trading practices including aggressive and misleading trading.
It also offers personal finance information through the itsyourmoney.ie website.
The National Consumer Agency operates a helpline during normal office hours.
National Consumer Agency
4 Harcourt Road
Tel: 1890 432 432
Tel: (01) 402 5555
The Irish Credit Bureau
The Irish Credit Bureau was established in 1965 and is owned by the banks and financial institutions.
The bureau is an electronic library or database that contains information on the performance of credit agreements between financial institutions (i.e. banks and building societies) and borrowers (i.e. the citizen).
It normally assesses information over a 24 month period.
Your credit rating is used by banks and financial institutions to check your dependability when it comes to loans and mortgages. You can request to see your own credit rating
The Irish Credit Bureau
Tel: 01 2600388
Money Advice and Budgeting Service
MABS is a national, free, confidential and independent service for people in debt or in danger of getting into debt. It is a completely confidential service and is not run by the government.
It is funded by the government but none of the information you discuss with MABS is passed on to third parties, unless you request them to negotiate on your behalf if you having problems with debt, for example.
The MABS helpline is staffed Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm
Free Legal Advice Centre
The Free Legal Advice Centres can be found at your local Citizen’s Information Advice centre. They are staffed by qualified solicitors and can offer advice on most personal finance issues. Mortgage, repossession, family law, maintenance payments, your rights when it comes to debt collection are among the area they can help with.
They offer a drop in service and helpline. They won’t be able to represent you in legal proceedings, but they can refer you to people who can, if needed.
New Beginning was launched at the end of 2010 by a group of 20 barristers seeking to help those facing repossession in court for no charge.
They launched in Dublin in November but are planning to roll out the service across Ireland with the support of local barristers over the next year.
There are citizens information bureau in most towns throughout the country. They are government funded and are there to give information or advise on a range issues including employment law, money, taxation.
They will also put you in touch with MABS. Many Citizens Information offices also offer free legal aid through the Free Legal Aid Centre, whose headquarters are in Dublin. See Legal Aid for separate contact details.