Taking Action to Support the Consumer Against Banks
We hope that you have all had a pleasant start to a New Year, as we leave behind the loss and tragedy of the Covid pandemic, and look forward with hope that vaccines might return us to normalcy in the near future. Collectively as a society, we have learned a lot from the pandemic and have made many changes in our lives to adapt in a post-pandemic world.
Can we say the same about our financial institutions or regulators who are meant to keep watch over them? As we have witnessed, this past year has seen a large number of financial frauds come to light, and we only hope that the regulators continue to keep a close watch and take swift action when necessary. But have we learned any lessons from our past in this regard and can we expect changes for the betterment of the common consumer? These are important questions that we at Moneylife Foundation hope to find answers for by seeking accountability from those responsible.
As consumers, we have been putting up with a lot of harassment and mental agony from banks over trivial matters. There are two specific issues we are taking up in the coming weeks.
1) Banks have been calling up customers and forcibly issuing "free" credit cards without the explicit consent of the customer. This is completely wrong and dangerous on many levels. Banks are misusing the trust and faith of their customers, by forcibly issuing credit cards to many who do not want them and charging annual fees for the same. This is dangerous and could affect your credit score and create needless debt. Following up with banks to have the cards cancelled and ensuring it is not reflected on credit scores (CIBIL) is tedious.
2) We are collating information on freezing/suspension of bank accounts on account of KYC related issues or beneficial ownership interpretation. We are not against sensible rules and clear customer identification. However, unilaterally freezing a bank account on tax-abiding people for trivial matters often amounts to 'financial death'. We believe this simply cannot be done without a serious apprehension of criminal activity or money laundering. Innumerable people have been harassed during the Covid lockdown with mindless rules. We ourselves have been victimized by Axis Bank. You can read more about this here.
If you have a bad experience to share on either of the issues above, please write to us at [email protected] to add to our representation to the RBI.
As many of you are already aware Moneylife Foundation has been conducting webinars over the past few months on topics that concern us the most in these difficult times. For those who are unable to join on Zoom, our webinars are always live streamed through our YouTube and Facebook channels, so you can also watch us live. A video recording is also uploaded on our YouTube channel a few days after the session.
Please follow our newsletters and social media channels for some exciting discussions and events planned in the coming days, which may be announced at short notice. As always, we look forward to your active feedback on issues that you would like us to discuss, and we will do our best to make it happen. Please do write to us at [email protected] Please become a free member of Moneylife Foundation first: https://www.mlfoundation.in/register.html
Programmes in January
The key highlight in January was the online launch of our report on the Efficacy of Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA) from the consumer perspective, at the hands of Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs. The launch event also attendance of Mr Deepak Parekh, Chairman of HDFC Ltd and Mr Gautam Chatterjee, Chairman of MahaRERA, who shared their perspectives and thoughts on RERA. During the event which was well attended by many experts and luminaries from the real estate sector as well RERA authorities of various states, Minister Hardeep Singh Puri made an important point of establishing a central database for the real estate sector with access to all stakeholders, allowing for maximum transparency. You can read more about the event here and also watch a video recording of the session on our YouTube Channel. The report is also available for reference on our website here
Moneylife TV & Helplines
With the outbreak of Covid-19, our physical events and daily clinics for this month have been suspended for the safety and benefit of all those involved. However, in this lockdown period you can still take advantage of our numerous videos of past seminars and workshops which are always available on our YouTube Channel Moneylife TV and Moneylife News Bites.
Although counselling on various issues from our experts is not possible in-person, you are welcome to email on [email protected] with your details. We shall forward your mail to the expert for guidance and do our best to get your query resolved.
Also, Moneylife Foundation is now on Telegram and Instagram, so do follow us on these channels to stay updated on our activities and events.
Founder-Trustee, Moneylife Foundation
Trustees: TS Krishnamurthy, Dr KC Chakrabarty, Walter Vieira, Sucheta Dalal, Debashis Basu.
Moneylife Foundation is registered with the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai, is an Affiliate member of OECD's International Network on Financial Education, is a Supporter Member of Consumers International, Development Partner of Advocates for International Development (A4ID), and is a winner of the 10th MR Pai Memorial Award.
Donations are eligible for tax benefits under Sec 80G of the Income Tax 1961 (50% tax exemption) and MLF is registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.