PORTLAOISE Credit Union said it had no knowledge that illegal tactics were being used by private investigators hired to track down people who were in arrears on their loans. Portlaoise CU manager Sean Dunne said that the branch ceased using the investigators as soon as they were notified by the Data Protection Commission of a concern late last year.
Portarlington and Portlaoise credit unions were named among at least 12 credit unions that had used private investigators or tracing agents who had accessed customer information illegally from the Department of Social Protection. Assistant data protection commissioner Tony Delaney is pursuing a number of private investigator firms that used false identities to illegally obtain the information from the Department of Social Protection.
Mr Dunne declined to say how long the credit union had been using the private investigators, but said only “very few” of its members had been referred as a last resort after a lengthy process. While not condoning the alleged tactics, Mr Dunne said: “If I want to serve you with a summons, I need to be able to serve you with a physical document. If you have changed your number, your address and disappear off the face of the earth, how can I serve you?”
Mr Dunne said that the credit union would “make every effort possible” to recoup monies owed to them. He added that the agency had been referred to it by a respected third party.
Portarlington Credit Union declined to comment and referred the ***Laois Nationalist*** to the Irish League of Credit Unions.
In a statement released by the Irish League of Credit Unions on Monday, its president Martin Sisk said: “A credit union has a duty of care to all of its members whose savings fund the loans granted to ensure that monies outstanding are paid back in full. Unfortunately, this does not always happen.
“Credit unions will make every effort to engage with a member in difficulty but, unfortunately, in a small number of cases, the services of a tracing agent or private investigator may be required.”