While the UAE Banks Federation’s announcement that they will establish a “Code of Conduct” to “build a professional and transparent environment to serve customers’ interests and rights” is commendable; implementation of these new measures can’t seem to come soon enough for UAE residents. Unhappy customers of major UAE banks continue to vent their frustration at various tactics used in the industry. Reports of intimidation, aggressive collection calls and even foul language have been made to various news agencies in the UAE documenting the events.
Reports of bank agents verbally abusing customers is unfortunately not a new occurrence. Many borrowers who are late on their payments or have defaulted receive little respect from bank collection staff and are made to feel like criminals.
In an effort to reclaim late payments or defaulting loans, certain banks have been resorting to office visits and even contacting managers of borrowers. An Indian expat describes his experience, “Apart from rude and threatening calls to me, my mother, colleagues and employer were made aware of my liability and a criminal case filed against me over a bounced cheque.”
This is faced by virtually every adult in the UAE on an almost daily basis. Cold calls from agents attempting to sell personal loans, credit cards and different services were banned by the Central Bank in 2011. But this has done little to prevent the practice; even requesting the removal of your number from the caller’s database is futile.
Refusal to Issue No-Liability Letters
Reports have been made that some banks flat-out refuse to issue no-liability letters that allow customers to close their bank accounts and seek other banking options.
Unauthorized Credit Increases
Customers have been unhappy with unauthorized credit increases that banks have been placing on their credit cards. Some expired card limits were continued while a new credit card was issued with the same limit, thus doubling the total limit for the individual.
Customers have been receiving credit cards through their courier for which they never submitted a formal application. One such incident mentioned a customer who had paid off his balance and cut up the card only to receive another by courier a few weeks later.
Unlawful Demands & Interest Rate Increases
Some banks have resorted to demanding unlawful amounts from customers. One case cited a borrower who was unable to continue payments on his personal loan due to financial difficulties. One year later, he was asked to pay three times the original loan amount. Similarly, an increase in his interest rate caught one customer by surprise when he left the country after losing his job and came back two months later to find that he owed five times the original amount.
Collecting on Prior Payments
Ugly incidents of banks trying to double collect have also been reported. One unfortunate lady was forced to clear her name after her bank deposited her security check almost 6 months early, only to find one year later her bank knocking on her door once again asking for the same payment.
Refusing to Close Accounts
Refusal by banks to close customer bank accounts is becoming a problem. Reports mention banks refusing to close accounts in order to accumulate charges in the name of the client. One such case features an expat who was incurring a maintenance fee of AED 175 per month. Notified by the bank agent when he lost his job that the account would automatically be closed; the account remained open and the unfortunate customer accumulated AED 4,800.