Yorkshire Building Society fined £4.1m over mortgages

Yorkshire Building Society HQ, Bradford Image copyright YBS GROUP

Yorkshire Building Society has been fined £4.1m by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for failing to deal properly with customers who had fallen behind with mortgage payments.

In particular, the regulator found that the society had been too slow to reach deals with struggling customers.

As a result, some of those customers had incurred extra fees and interest.

In February, the mortgage lender agreed to refund almost 34,000 customers at a cost of £8.4m, after an FCA probe.

Cases 'drifted'

The fine, the biggest imposed by the FCA on a building society, relates to the mistreatment of customers between 1 October 2011 and 31 July 2012.

The FCA found that Yorkshire staff had not been trained properly and had only "fragmented" guidance, which meant that customers did not receive consistent treatment.

"By allowing cases to drift without agreement, YBS's actions meant that customers in vulnerable circumstances risked falling into further financial difficulty," said Tracey McDermott, FCA director of Enforcement and Financial Crime.

"Customers in financial difficulty need to be treated fairly and sensitively," she said.

In a statement, Yorkshire acknowledged its failings and said that it had "completely changed" the way the building society operates.

Back in February it announced that any customer who had been charged a fee for being behind on their mortgage since 2009 would be refunded.

It also pledged to refund any interest on those fees. It says that some customers who were correctly charged fees would also receive a refund.

"As a mutual organisation owned by our members, the service we give to customers is fundamental to us and we are very sorry for letting them down," said Chris Pilling, Yorkshire Building Society chief executive.

"I hope the refunds we have voluntarily given to customers and the changes we have made demonstrate how seriously we have taken this issue and our commitment to put things right," he said.

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