Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

My brother passed away on the 9th October last year and the District Commissioner made a letter requesting his bank to close his Account and give me all his savings as his estate executor. I went to the bank and was told that his account had P16,000 but he had taken a personal loan with a balance of P21,000, and they were unable to give me his savings as he was owing them the balance from his savings and the loan was not insured. I went to the bank adjudicator on 1st December 2009 to lodge a complaint but the bank wrote a reply letter to say that their loans are not insured.

Could you please assist as I feel that this is not fair.

I’m very sorry to hear about your bereavement. I’m also sorry to hear the problem you have encountered with the bank. However I don’t think there’s much you can do.

If it’s true that your brother had an outstanding loan for P21,000 then the bank is perfectly entitled to offset that against the amount he had in his savings account. I think they’re morally entitled to do that but also legally and contractually. I’m sure we’ve all seen the small print in our loan agreements (yes, of course we all read them!) that say that if you default for whatever reason in repaying a loan, they are entitled to take the money from other accounts you have with them.

Despite this I would request that the bank gives you a full set of closing statements about all the accounts your brother held with them so that you can check everything has been calculated correctly.

The lesson of course is insurance. It’s always worth considering an insurance mechanism when you are in debt just in case things like this happen.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

We heard from a consumer who had received an unsolicited email that she was convinced was a scam. The email claimed to come from the “UPS West London Center” and related to an undelivered package. Note to begin with the scammer’s mistake. If they’re really in London surely they would spell it “Centre”, not the American way?

Then there’s the email address it came from: Surely a message from UPS, a massive international shipping company, would come from someone with an email address like “”?

The email said:
“This is to inform you that we are in possession of your Parcel which includes a certified cheque worth of £250,000.00 and other vital documents that we facilitate the clearance of the cheque in your country. Be rest assured that, your cheque has been confirmed valid and true and delivery will be made once you have met the necessary requirements.
Note that as soon as our Delivery Team confirms your information’s, it will take only two working days (48 hours) for your package to arrive it designated destination.”
Later the email says:
“For your information, the Mail, VAT and Shipping fees have been paid by the Lottery Award Promo Board before your package was registered. What you need to pay is the Security keeping fee of the UPS Company as stated in our privacy terms & condition page, in order to secure your Package. The cost for the Security keeping fee is £165 GBP.”
That last bit is what they’re after. That’s the “advance fee” these scammers are seeking. As you can imagine everything else is fake, that £165 is all they want. Once you’ve sent it you can bet you’ll start receiving other demands for more and more money until you figure out you’ve been scammed.

As with most email scams I think you can rightly suspect any unsolicited email that has English as bad as this one. You can also remember that nobody has ever won a lottery that they didn’t enter.

Of course the final give-away is that they need this money paid using Western Union which seems to be a common denominator among all scams these days. Surely UPS would have better payment methods than this?

If you receive an email like this make sure you delete it immediately. Don’t be tempted to become a victim!

Finally my thanks and congratulations to the reader who sent this in. It’s good to know there are skeptics out there who care about their neighbours.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #3

Unfortunately we heard of another type of scam that we haven’t seen so far in Botswana. It’s one of the most despicable types that the scamming industry have ever invented. All scams exploit people’s gullibility to some extent but this is lower than low.

This scam is a prolonged romantic seduction of the victim. Yes, literally romantic. Over a long period the scammer flatters and sweet-talks his victim, encouraging her to fall in love with him, and, like all scams, eventually demands money. In this case he claimed to have sent his victim a package full of jewellery, gifts and money, only for it to be “held up at customs” in a foreign country. He claims to be away from his office so he couldn’t pay the amount himself, and yes, you’ve guessed it, the victim was then asked to transfer money by Western Union to his account. And then he disappears.

Of course all scammers are despicable crooks but some are obviously a lot more despicable than others.

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