Friday 21 March 2014

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1
I got a car using a car loan. I got retrenched and I approached the bank about my financial position and they advised me to return the car. Five years later they told me that there was a shortfall when they sold the car and while I awaited an explanation they started taking money from my account. They take 500 month end and 800 mid month. I need a quick resolution.

Clearly this bank needs to organize themselves a bit better. Taking five years to chase you for money you might owe them isn’t good enough. We’ll talk to them about that on your behalf.

Meanwhile I suspect that there’s not much that be done about the money you probably owe them. When a car is repossessed it’s then sold at auction to attempt to recover the money the bank is owed. However it’s often the case that the amount they raise isn’t enough to completely pay off the outstanding balance you owe, often leaving an amount still to pay. That seems to be what they’re deducting.

Normally in these situations the bank will write you a letter explaining the process and describing the amounts still owed. They should also make it clear how much they got when they sold the car. I assume you don’t remember getting such a letter?

With your permission we’ll contact the bank and ask them to explain everything clearly to you.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I’m suffering abuse by a loan shark. My story is, I was a student at university and I borrowed P1,000 from a certain cash loan during my sponsorship period but when my contracts finished I no longer had a source of money and my ATM card was with them. I had to hussle for job until I was employed as a Special Constable. Now the cash loan have engaged lawyers saying that I have neglected to pay them and they claim I have accumulated more interests and it’s now more than P2,000 and they have summonsed me. I’m waiting for a hearing at court now. What can I do?

Firstly micro-lenders are strictly forbidden from taking a customer’s ATM card or Omang. They’ll be in big trouble because of that. Secondly they’re dangerously close to breaking the “in duplum” rule which says that when you settle a debt the interest charged may not exceed the principal amount that you borrowed.

What can you do? You can call NBFIRA on 3102595 immediately and ask them to intervene.

Financial literacy and NBFIRA

You may have seen in the last couple of weeks that NBFIRA, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, has been out in the community and throughout the media doing their best to improve our financial literacy.

I like NBFIRA a lot. They’re a regulator that isn’t afraid to regulate. If ever you have a problem with a micro-lender (loan shark is a better term in this case) you can call NBFIRA and they’ll do their best to help you out. They can’t cancel legitimate debts but they can ensure that lenders at least abide by the rules.

However, even though they’ve done a fantastic job of starting to clear up the micro-lending industry there’s still a long way to go. We need limits put on the interest rates micro-lenders can charge. We need their annual report to list all the micro-lenders that have been approved in the last year and those who were closed down. We need a list of approved micro-lenders available on their website 24/7. We need them to take on store credit and hire purchase agreements. We need a lot from them.

The good news is that I think they’ve got the determination, the skills and the powers to do all of this. Let’s help them get there.

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