Loan settlement? Here is what you need to be careful about

loans, borrower, loan settlement, loan repayment, ABN AMRO Bank, NOC, Dadar Police Station, Delhi Police

Seven years after he settled a loan, a borrower is being subjected to numerous calls, notices and even arrest warrant. The only mistake, he committed was not to collect the NOC and account statement from the lender after his settlement 

Mumbai-based trader Ramnik Patel (name changed) was happy and relieved when in 2007 he repaid Rs58,000 to ABN AMRO Bank as full and final settlement against his loan outstanding. Seven years down the line, he is receiving calls from recovery agents, and notices from lawyers and warrants from places located thousands of kilometres away from Mumbai. He is not only disturbed, but feels like being mentally tortured just because a small mistake committed by the bank while updating its record.

In 2005, Patel took a personal loan of Rs2.15 lakh from ABN AMRO Bank. However, during 26/7 monsoon fury, he suffered heavy loss and could not repay his loan on time. Then on 21 March 2007, he received a letter from the Bank offering him a settlement. As per the offer letter, he was asked to pay Rs58,000 in two tranches of Rs29,000 each. The Bank also promised him that it would hand over all his unused post-dated cheques (PDCs) and no-objection certificate (NOC) within seven working days of the loan being closed on its system.
After accepting the offer from the Bank, Patel, promptly paid Rs29,000 each time on 28 March 2007 and 20 April 2007 to ABN AMRO Bank as per the settlement offer.
Meanwhile, ABN AMRO Bank was sold to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). RBS then sold all the debts of ABN AMRO to Kotak Mahindra group. Phoenix Asset Reconstruction Co Pvt Ltd, a unit of Kotak Mahindra group handles the recovery of these debts acquired from RBS.
Suddenly, in 2012, he received a phone call from somebody called as Choudhary from Patiala Parliament Police Station informing that there was a case filed against him and warrant was also issued by the Court. The warrant was sent from Delhi Police to Dadar Police station in Mumbai for execution. When Patel reached Dadar police station, he was told that a case was filed against him in 2011, which was transferred to Delhi Court. This was related with the loan he took from ABN AMRO Bank, he was told.
Here is a Checklist if you are going for a settlement with a lender…
  1. Keep copies of all your written communication with the lender
  2. Always have everything in writing (Even if you receive a phone call, send an acknowledgement mentioning points discussed during the call)
  3. Keep copies of the settlement letter, cheque/DD or pay order you submitted
  4. After the settlement, obtain a NOC and collect all your post-dated cheques, if any
  5. Do no forget to collect your loan account statement that shows zero balance

Interestingly, Patel never received any notice, memo or any warrant for his arrest from anybody until the phone call from Choudhary. Patel, then asked his lawyer to send reply to all concerned, including one lawyer called S Gupta from Delhi and police stations at both Delhi and Mumbai.

Again, in November 2013, Patel received a notice from Mumbai-based lawyer on behalf of Phoenix ARC Pvt Ltd. The lawyer, in the notice invited Patel to settle his loan in a conciliation camp (for settlement) organised by Kotak Mahindra Bank on 2 December 2013. The lawyer claimed that as on 30 April 2012, Patel had an outstanding of Rs42,811.95 that would have to be repaid along with an interest of 2% per month. Patel, then again had to reply to this notice and submit all the documents.
Next year, on 3 April 2014, Patel received a notice from the Mumbai District Legal Services Authority to be present during a hearing in the Lok Nyayalaya on 12th April. Phoenix ARC had approached the Lok Nyayalaya to take up the matter.
Patel went to the hearing and put forward his case. After looking at the documents and hearing Patel’s side, the representative of Phoenix agreed to verify his account and get back to him within seven days. They even gave an undertaking in writing.
This has been about nine months, since Patel went to the Lok Adalat and yet there is neither any response from the Bank nor any respite to him from the recovery agents.
So what went wrong with Patel? From his side, he did not collect the NOC and unused PDCs from ABN AMRO Bank, while the Bank failed to make necessary changes into its account books. This also raises big question, on how can a big lender like ABM AMRO forgets to update its loan book and record the settlement and passes on the same as dues to the buyer. In addition, since ABN AMRO no longer exists, how and where the borrower, who is being shown as defaulter, and harassed for recovery of dues that he had already paid, would go?
If you are facing similar issues, then you may want to take help from Moneylife Foundation’s free Credit Helpline  which offers free counselling to help you get out of this trap. In Mr Patel’s case, he approached the Credit Helpline and Moneylife Foundation’s trustees have also taken up this case with the Reserve Bank of India’s customer services department.

Receiving money through NEFT can put you in trouble

Despite directions from RBI, banks refuse to share details of the entity sending money through NEFT

The National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT), used by almost everyone to transfer money quickly, can also put the receiver in a difficult position. The main reason is, there are no details available about the remitter or sender and if the amount is large, then the recipient may end up facing Income Tax (I-T) Department queries. Remember what happened with Aishwarya Rai, when in 2006 she received a parcel containing 23,000 euros (around Rs14 lakh at that time) sent by an unknown person from the Netherlands?

Well, with banks hesitating in sharing details of the person or entity who is transferring money via NEFT, it may be you next time. Although the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has directed banks to furnish appropriate details in passbook or account statement for credits sent and received by the customer through NEFT, all the recipient gets is just a name and amount. “A very generic mention as ‘NEFT’ or ‘NECS’ does not help customers in identifying the source of credits, particularly where multiple credits are afforded to their accounts through these products. The Core Banking Solutions (CBS) of banks should be enabled to capture complete information from the relevant fields in the messages, data files which can be displayed to customers when they access their accounts online or provided to them additionally when they approach the branch counters, help desks, call centres,” the RBI had said.

However, all the recipient gets to know is just a name. There are no details like sender’s PAN number, address and the cause/remark for the money transfer.

Often money launderers are found using bank accounts of low-income individuals for transferring money. In addition, due to the forceful implementation of the Jan Dhan Yojana, we have about 10 crore new bank accounts, out of which 73% do not have a single penny. But consider that tomorrow, if somebody uses these accounts to launder money, then without detailed information about the remitter, how is a poor Kalawati supposed to answer queries from the authorities, including but not limited to I-T department. In the absence of detailed information about the remitter, how will she explain the unaccounted money remitted into her account through NEFT?

Receiving funds from unknown remitters becomes an even bigger issue for non-governmental organisations (NGO), who need to give a receipt as well as I-T exemption certificate. If there is just a name of the remitter, how and where is an NGO, like Moneylife Foundation, supposed to send the receipt?

Another issue with NEFT fund transfer is the delay. According to RBI policy, banks need to afford credits to beneficiary accounts or return transactions (uncredited for whatever reason) to the originating / sponsor bank within the prescribed timeline. It also directed banks to move towards hourly settlement starting from 9am to 7pm on all week days and between 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Yet, it appears that banks are still using the last part of the work-day or first hour of the next day for NEFT transactions.

Coming back to the Aishwarya Rai episode, the actor was grilled by the Customs official for two-and-a-half hours at the international airport as soon as she landed in Mumbai from Jodhpur. The parcel was allegedly sent by one Avineshwar from the Netherlands marked to the actress. It arrived at the Foreign Post Office in Mumbai during September 2006. Besides the currency, it also contained a top-brand shirt, a pair of binoculars, a DVD player and other electronic items. Following a notice, Aishwarya’s father Krishnaraj Rai, on 15th November met Custom officials to clarify her position. However, the officials insisted to know details from Aishwarya, due to which the actor had to come to Mumbai to clarify her position. She was shooting for the movie ‘Jodha Akbar’ in Jodhpur at that time. After the enquiry, she was give a temporary clean chit by the Customs.

Therefore, it is high time the central bank issues another order mandating banks to share all details of the remitter who is sending money through NEFT or any other payment method to the recipient and actually penalises banks if there are persistent complaints about flouting the RBI’s order.

Courtesy : MoneyLife Foundation

http://www.moneylife.in/article/receiving-money-through-neft-can-put-you-in-trouble/40102.html


Discover a new way to bank by dialling *99#

Bank on the go even without an internet connection on your mobile phone. Presenting the new USSD (*99#) service, through this, you can check your:

To know more, click here

Please note: the USSD service is not restricted to Kotak Bank alone. All accounts of different banks linked to your registered mobile number can be checked through this service using the bank’s IFSC. The USSD service works only on GSM mobile phones and with select telecom operators. Kotak Mahindra Bank does not charge any fees for this service. However, call charges as applicable may be levied by telecom operators.


‘Any Branch Banking” – For whose benefit?

While the banks have considerably benefitted from the introduction of CBS, the customers of banks have yet to reap the benefits

How banks have benefitted from introducing the core banking solution -CBS?

With the introduction of CBS, the cost of servicing customers went down considerably for banks, besides helping them to improve their capability to service a large number of accountswith minimum cost as evidenced by the following facts and figures.

Table: 1- Growth of business of all scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) and their employee position for fifteen years from 1983 to 1998 (before introduction of CBS)

As stated in the tables above, while the business of banks grew exponentially, the number of employees went up marginally, thereby saving them huge manpower expenses with attendant benefits of lower capital cost on infrastructure. The banks, however, needed to invest onhardware and software on a regular basis, but this was much less compared to the total savings in work force cost on a continuous basis year after year.
On the other hand, customer service started deteriorating slowly, and the biggest casualty of CBS is the personal relationship between banker and customer. For every hiccup in service quality, banks started blaming computers and expressed helplessness in servicing customers across the counters.

Click Here for the full story at MoneyLife


Is the restriction on free use of ATMs fair?

What bankers get from charging for ATM use is peanuts compared to what they are losing in NPAs

A day before this announcement by the PM, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced certain changes to the ATM facility offered to bank customers and the charges levied for withdrawals through ATMs with effect from 1 November, 2014.
What are the changes introduced by RBI for ATM withdrawals?
The present rules for ATM withdrawals are as under:
1. At present every ATM card holder could withdraw cash from the same bank’s ATM any number of times free of all charges. For example, if you have an account with State Bank of India (SBI), you could withdraw cash or do any other non-cash transactions from ATMs of SBI any number of times in a month with out any charges.
2. Secondly, at present, you can transact or withdraw cash from other banks’ ATMs also, but only five times a month without any charges. For withdrawals beyond five times in a month, you are being charged Rs.20/- plus service tax for every such withdrawal.
3. These rules are applicable even for non-financial transactions, like using the ATMs forbalance enquiry and seeking details of last five transactions in your account. In short, usage, for any purpose, of ATMs of your own bank where you maintain your account is totally free, but you can use other banks’ ATMs also for  maximum of five times in a month without any charges.

Click Here for the detailed story from MoneyLife


Conned Indian Financial Consumer

As these examples from Moneylife Foundation’s Helpline show, the consumer has little chance of being treated fairly by companies, regulators and intermediaries

Mr Mallick from Sambalpur in Orissa runs an NGO. He has 17 insurance policies, sold to him by eight banks through their Bankassurance partners, with large premiums. He claims to have borrowed funds from various banks for a project (which we gather involves lending to the rural poor like a banking correspondent) and was persuaded to buy insurance policies. Since Mr Mallick’s English is poor, it is not clear if there was coercion; he alleges ‘gross mis-selling’.

The real question is: Why would anyone, in his right senses, buy 17 insurance policies and commit to the payment of such high premiums? We believe he was made false promises by his bankers, taking advantage of his financial illiteracy. Like Suchitra Krishnamoothi, he too made the mistake of trusting his bankers and did not suspect that they would mislead him.

Moneylife Foundation took up the issue of mis-selling of third-party financial products with RBI governor, Dr Raghuram Rajan. We are most upbeat that Dr Rajan, once he applies his mind to the issue, will begin to see how people’s finances are decimated by bankers who prey on their ‘trust’.

We are especially heartened by the speed with which he has directed banks not to levy penalties for failure to maintain minimum balances on inoperative accounts. He has also implemented the long-pending demand to scrap foreclosure charges/ pre-payment penalties on all floating rate term loans sanctioned to individual borrowers, through a directive.

Click Here to read the full article by Sucheta Dalal.

 


When can a Bank Close your Safe Deposit Locker (India)

Normally bank lockers are opened for the safe keeping of valuable confidential documents, gold and precious ornaments.   The bank lockers will give a sort of comfort to the locker holders with total peace of mind.  The main features and benefits of safe deposit lockers are convenient, safe and private way of keeping valuables secure and facility to deposit or retrieve valuables at any time during the banking hours.  
But please remember to operate your bank lockers at least once in a year (base on the customer risk category) otherwise your bank can open your safe deposit locker and allot the same to another customer. The RBI direction related to unoperated bank lockers are given below
“Where the lockers have remained unoperated for more than three years for medium risk category or one year for a higher risk category, banks should immediately contact the locker-hirer and advise him to either operate the locker or surrender it. This exercise should be carried out even if the locker hirer is paying the rent regularly. Further, banks should ask the locker hirer to give in writing, the reasons why he / she did not operate the locker. In case the locker-hirer has some genuine reasons as in the case of NRIs or persons who are out of town due to a transferable job etc., banks may allow the locker hirer to continue with the locker. In case the locker-hirer does not respond nor operate the locker, banks should consider opening the lockers after giving due notice to him. In this context, banks should incorporate a clause in the locker agreement that in case the locker remains unoperated for more than one year, the bank would have the right to cancel the allotment of the locker and open the locker, even if the rent is paid regularly. “
RBI direction is very clear, even if you pay your locker rent regularly, the bank has got every right to open the locker and allot this to another customer, if you failed to operate your bank locker within the time limit prescribed by RBI
So please keep in mind that, you should operate your bank locker at least once in a year (as per the risk category) even if there is nothing to deposit or withdraw from your bank safe deposit locker.  The simple solution is to visit your bank locker once in a year and open and close it and also once in a while ensure that the contents stored in the locker is in order.  Please ensure to obtain a copy of the safe deposit locker agreement and read all terms and conditions carefully.
Note: RBI rules related to opening and operating of Bank Safe Deposit lockers are subject to change. Please contact your bank for more information and guidance.  This article is just for the general information of the readers.
Courtesy : Noshir Parlewalla