SC Expert Committee Endorses Our Paper On Unclaimed Deposits; Some Of Our Concerns Find Place RBI Customer Services Committee
Greetings! A positive piece of news that you may have missed if you don't read Moneylife regularly – yes, our white paper on the need for a central database for unclaimed public money has been endorsed by the committee with detailed recommendations. If you missed it elsewhere, it is because the rest of the media appears to have ignored the issue entirely.
The SC-appointed committee on the Adani-Hindenburg issue has recommended a Central Unclaimed Property Authority (CUPA) "to bring sharp focus to the area of unclaimed properties such as securities, dividends and bank deposits belonging to deceased investors."
Here in a nutshell are the committee's recommendations:
"First, the authorities (should) make rigorous attempts to locate rightful heirs or owners of unclaimed assets; second, when the owner is not traceable for anywhere between 7 and 10 year, the assets are transferred to a centralised fund; third, claimants do not lose the right to such funds and have access to searchable databases to track the funds and follow the process laid down to recover the money."
"There is a need to create a centralised, searchable database of unclaimed money and property of the general public that gets transferred to government-owned repositories such as the Depositor's Education and Awareness Fund ("DEAF") and IEPF on the premise that the property is not claimed by legal heirs or nominees."
"The core objective of the database should be to 'reunite unclaimed property (including all financial assets) with the rightful owner' and, towards this end, enable proven legal heirs to get a full picture of the investments and savings of the deceased and claim their money/bequest in a smooth and efficient manner."
"In order to be effective, a statutory central authority, backed by the appropriate legislation, must be empowered to track the rightful owner, resolve grievances and deal with security and privacy concerns."
"It is only when the databases are interoperable and integrated that the system would be effective. This will involve legal mandates and organisational structure, with holistic IT-based automated processes."
"The authority must create standard operating procedures since even within the same class of institutions (say, a bank, different managers add their own rules and demand sureties, fixed deposits, indemnity, etc) in connection with honouring claims."
"A simple PAN-based KYC of the nominee (non-mandatory) may be considered to make the process of identification and transfer of assets much simpler."
"Globally, there are different models of dealing with such funds with most of them having statutory backing. The ambit of what comprises unclaimed funds also differs widely. In the US, it also extends to royalties, unclaimed salaries, mining rights etc. in addition to stocks, bonds, bank deposits and earnings thereof."
"Some countries maintain a central database for unclaimed assets; others have managed to efficiently make the information available through multiple authorised agencies. In the United Kingdom, the agency operates as a public-private partnership."
Another positive development on this front is Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's concern over the increasing number of unclaimed deposits with banks, mutual funds and insurers. She advised regulators to conduct a special drive to settle unclaimed deposits and claims, following which the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently announced a '100 Days 100 Pays' campaign, asking banks to trace and settle the top-100 unclaimed deposits of every bank in every district of the country within 100 days. It has also set up a portal to make the tracing of funds easier. You can read more about this here: Unclaimed Deposits: RBI Launches '100 Days 100 Pays' Campaign for Returning Money
RBI's Committee on Customer Service
There is more on the banking front. A couple of months ago I had presented key concerns of customers to Reserve Bank of India's Customer Services Committee, headed by former deputy governor BP Kanungo. (Read here)
We are happy to note that a few of our concerns have found their way into the committee report:
A centralised database of KYC, which eliminates the need for repeated submission of KYC documents;
Updating the model operating procedure (MOP) for hassle-free settlement of claims in accounts of the deceased account holders;
Umposing regulatory penalties for deficiency in customer service;
Compensating a customer in case of any injury suffered in bank premises;
Regulated entities should be subject to verification by an audit to ensure that there is no mis-selling in the sale of third-party products, and to ensure that guidelines and instructions are adhered to;
Adopting a nuanced approach to risk categorisation of customers;
Standardisation of an ATM interface.
Housing Society Problems & Solutions
The Right to As you all know, Mr Shirish Shanbhag who recently completed ten years of association with Moneylife Foundation, provides counseling and guidance on all housing society and property related matters, through one-on-one sessions and also on our online Legal Helpline. For the past few months, Moneylife has also published weekly columns that showcase a few select problems from our readers and members, along with the comprehensive and yet concise solutions provided by Mr Shanbhag.
If you are facing a problem within your housing society with respect to parking, maintenance, leakage or need guidance on redevelopment, deemed conveyance or any such matters, do make the time to read the weekly column. You may find a solution to your problem, or you can post your query on our Helpline where it would be answered by Mr Shanbhag. Here are some that may be of interest,
Frauds, Scams and Mis-selling of Financial Products
Over the years through Moneylife Foundation, we have strived to educate our members on matters of financial literacy and made efforts to spread consumer awareness on important issues through seminars and workshops, and articles published on Moneylife. We have also made efforts to provide guidance and grievance counseling to many through our helplines and daily clinics. Yet, we still hear about tales of fraud, misfortune and mis-selling from our members and from those who approach Moneylife Foundation for advice.
We came across one such case last week, where a senior citizen couple and their daughter were sweet-talked by a bank's relationship manager (RM), to withdraw funds from PPF accounts and invest them into various insurance policies with hefty unaffordable annual premiums. The RM even convinced them to open demat accounts and invested their savings into mutual fund schemes. It's disheartening and sad to see that people still remain woefully unaware and naïve about personal finance matters, while claiming ignorance and having blind faith in RMs.
As of Moneylife Foundation, you have access to a vast amount of resources on our website (Helplines, Fraud Alerts and Guides or Templates) and on our YouTube Channel. Please spare some time to check them out and spread the word, as these resources will help you stay safe and vigilant. Do encourage others to become members as well, so many more can benefit!
It started as an exercise to do counseling and workshops online during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, but has now become part of our regular routine. For those who have not been keeping up, we have been hosting webinars online on a wide range of topics from right to information, health, financial literacy, broker defaults and investor grievance mechanisms, redevelopment and conveyance, wills and nominations, and more. Video recordings of all our webinars are available on our YouTube channel. Do subscribe, so that you get notified when a new video is available.
If you would like to be notified when our next webinar is scheduled, please become a member of Moneylife Foundation so that you are automatically added to our mailing lists. Do encourage others to join and take advantage as well!
We have a few webinars lined up in the coming months. So keep a lookout for the invitations in your mailbox or WhatsApp (if you're on our lists). If you have a topic or issue that you would like us to cover in a webinar or workshop, do send us an email at [email protected], and we will surely consider your request.
It's been a few months since we restarted our in-person one-to-one counseling sessions, and we are glad to report that many of you have taken advantage of this FREE service. Our experts, Mr Shirish Shanbhag for housing society and property related matters, and Mr Abhay Datar for banking, insurance, medi-claim and consumer related issues, have continued to provide workable solutions to your grievances and have helped many in these past few months to resolve issues.
They spend their valuable time to provide guidance through counseling sessions and also through our online helplines, and their efforts continue to help many of those who have sought help. If you have a specific concern or issue related to co-operative housing societies, insurance, mediclaim or consumer related complaints, do call our office - (022) 2444 1058 or (022) 2444 1059 for an appointment if you are in Mumbai. Otherwise use our Free Helplines for guidance.
Consumer Awareness & Financial Literacy
As members of Moneylife Foundation, you have access to various content in the form webinars, recorded videos and articles on matters of consumer awareness and financial literacy that we have published on our websites and YouTube channels. All of our published content is available for free, with no restrictions whatsoever. If you've not taken the time to educate yourself, please do so and spread the word about our work to your friends, colleagues and family so that many others can benefit.
As consumers you need to be vigilant when shopping or transacting online. Deals that seem too good to be true, are most likely scams designed to lure unsuspecting consumers. Thousands of people become victims of holiday scams every year. Scammers can rob you of hard-earned money, personal information, and at the very least, a festive mood. It is important you remain vigilant and aware in an increasingly online world that becomes unsafe for consumers in new ways everyday. Moneylife Foundation has actively made efforts on several fronts in this regard.
We continue to educate our members on the latest frauds, scams and attractive yet fraudulent schemes through series of articles on Moneylife. Our Youtube Channel has a vast repository of videos from past seminars and workshops, as well as short videos on topics of financial literacy which are a great resource to those willing to spend some time learning. Our online helplines are always open for counselling from a panel of experts on issues on banking, insurance, housing and property related matters, consumer and other issues.
Do take the time to read our articles, watch the videos and also share them with others, so that many more can take advantage of the knowledge and remain safe. Please also do encourage your friends, family members and colleagues to become members of Moneylife Foundation.
Take extra precaution when using banking apps, websites or e-commerce sites while shopping, as they have been instances of fake apps and fraudulent websites masquerading as authorised ones. Read this article to know what you should do when you are cheated while shopping online and follow this how-to guide when you want to file a consumer complaint.
Do subscribe to our YouTube Channel for regular updates and notifications when a new video is released, and also encourage your friends and family to do so as well. After all, the more number of people that watch and learn from these short videos, the more financially literate we can all be.
We are also happy to send them to you in the language of your choice on WhatsApp and Telegram if you share your numbers at Moneylife Foundation's WhatsApp number (+91 7045156415). This is also a good opportunity for you to join our WhatsApp broadcast list as well as our telegram channel. Join to stay in the loop about Moneylife Foundation's activities.
Do send us your feedback on these and if you have benefitted from our work, please do not forget to pass it forward by introducing our videos, free helplines and membership benefit to others. Do register for a free membership and also encourage your friends and family to join as well.
File your RTI Applications with Expert Guidance
RTI Advice App पर विस्तृत गाइड से विशिष्ट उपयोग के मामलों के लिए आरटीआई आवेदन दाखिल करने का तरीका जानें। हिंदी और मराठी भाषाओं में उपलब्ध।
Many of you are already aware of our 'RTI Advice' app, which was launched for both android andiOS devices a year ago. The app helps you get expert advice on your RTI queries in any language or format (text, audio or video) and access to over 900 queries that are already asked and answered by our 14 highly regarded RTI experts.
Don't worry about how to navigate the app—we now have user guides for you in English, Hindi and Marathi! Download the app or access the guides from our website here.
This month, veteran civic and social activist, Anil Galgali shared his thoughts on using Right to Information (RTI) applications for public and social good. The session was conducted on Zoom and live streamed on our YouTube and Facebook channels. Mr Galgali candidly shared lessons to be learned from examples of how RTI could be used effectively for seeking transparency from municipal corporations or other local government bodies. If you missed important webinar, you can always watch a video recording of the same on our YouTube channel here. The session was well attended by interested members of Moneylife Foundation on Zoom and also on our YouTube and Facebook channels.
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, 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.