In Greece, debt related advice is provided by stakeholders of both the private and the public sector. However, the lack of a certain and specialized legal framework can be observed. There is no specific provision in the Greek legal system rergarding debt advice, i.e. who and under which circumstances can give debt advice, what kind of education and/or training must the advisor undergo, etc.
The main stakeholders that give debt advice to consumers are the Special Secretariat for Private Debt Management, consumer associations, lawyers and accountants.
The Special Secretariat for Private Debt Management was founded in 2016 and since 2019 is subject to the Ministry of Finance. The Special Secretariat has established until now 45 Consumer Information and Support Centers and Offices in large cities across Greece.
The objective of these Centers and Offices is to provide customized advice concerning the possible legal ways that an over-indebted individual or business can follow, in order to regulate their debts, such as the extrajudicial mechanism for debt regulation (a governmental online platform). The consultation provided also includes aiding consumers in drafting family budget, as well as providing specialized advice concerning household financial management.
However, in practice, Consumer Information and Support Centers and Offices mostly provide general information on debt related legislation. Unfortunately, they are underequipped and their personnel mainly consists of public clerks without any specialized education or training.
Consumer organizations are constituted at first and secondary level. Members of consumer organizations at first level are natural persons. Members of consumer organizations at secondary level are only first level consumer associations. In Greece there are 2 secondary level associations, POMEK (www.pomek.gr) and INKA/GOKE (www.inka.gr) and 22 first level organizations, certified and recognized by the Ministry of Development and Investment. The first degree consumer associations which are more active in the debt advice field are:
- EKPIZO (www.ekpizo.gr)
- KEPKA (www.kepka.org)
- EEKE (www.eeke.gr)
- ENKA Crete (www.enkakritis.gr)
- EPKA-STE (www.epka-ste.gr)
- NEW INKA (inka.support)
Consumers can gain access to customized advice by paying a low usually annual fee to the association. They occupy employees who tend to be sufficiently educated/trained on legal, financial and debt issues.
Lawyers advise consumers on the legal ways they can follow, in order to regulate their debts. Lawyers can act as consultants through the procedure of the extrajudicial mechanism mentioned above.
Lawyers are the only debt advice stakeholder who is entitled to represent consumers before courts, whenever judicial insolvency procedures are followed.
Accountants provide advice to consumers mostly concerning the regulation of their debts towards the State or Social Security Funds. They are also entitled to act as consultants through the procedure of the extrajudicial mechanism mentioned above.