Aggrieved customer takes bank to task for blocking account, wins

Banks often make unauthorized debits from a customer’s account, taking advantage of having our money at their disposal. A bank cannot take the law into its own hands to recover its dues. Here is a case where the a bank was taken to task by an aggrieved consumer.Case Study: Srinivasa Rajan had a credit card issued by Tata Finance Ltd. In mid-November 2002, the company asked Rajan to pay Rs 74,516.45 towards various charges and fees for its retention and use.After 10 days, Rajan was informed that his card had been suspended. Over three years passed without any action being taken by either Rajan to challenge the demand, or by Tata Finance to recover the amount.

Subsequently , ICICI Bank took over Tata Finance’s credit card division. Since Rajan had an ICICI
account, in April 2006, the bank unilaterally blocked the account for an amount exceeding Rs 80,000. It also issued a legal notice, asking Rajan to pay Rs 1,58,093.95 as the outstanding dues on the credit card. It then debited this amount from his account and usurped it without even bothering to inform him.

He only learnt of it when a cheque he issued was dishonoured for lack of funds. Aggrieved, he complained to the district forum for a direction to the bank to unblock his account and to pay compensation and costs.

Jehangir Gai

(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt.of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His email is jehangir.gai.columnist@outlook.in)

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