Saturday 29 April 2023

The Voice - Consumer's Voice

They took my inheritance!

I desperately need help. Where can I seek help in a case where the bank is holding my inheritance from my father's death benefits. They are saying they took it because that's my current balance and hence they are using it to clear my loan.

I'm not in arrears. Apparently when relocating you automatically need to settle the loan with either pension or any lump sum that goes into the account.

I did not agree with them on that. No form of writing was done whatsoever. I am currently based overseas and have been servicing my loan. I also communicated with the bank upon relocation and made an arrangement on how il service their loan. Now they are holding my money yet I have hospital bills to pay.

Like many situations with banks, insurance companies and any other supplier that deals with financial issues, this will all depend what's in writing.

Yes, it seems unreasonable that the bank has done this, particularly considering that the money was an inheritance and you have medical bills to pay but I'm sure that somewhere in the loan agreement you signed there's a clause saying that if the bank has a good reason, they can move money between your accounts. They can use an account in credit to match another account that's in debt. However, this should normally only happen when there's been a problem, like if you've defaulted. But you haven't and this is where we need to check the small print.

When a bank customer moves to another country banks often get anxious. Can they be sure that the customer will continue to pay their loan instalments? More importantly to them, what will happen if the customer defaults? How will they enforce a judgment on someone in a faraway country? It's good that you told them you were moving but I think they need to be reassured you pose no threat to them. You urgently need to speak to them, explain what's happening and give them an assurance that you're no risk to them. Then they might be more reasonable.

Scam warning (yet again)

Many people have asked recently whether a scheme they've been invited to join is legit or not.

Here's a simple guide to help you decide. Firstly, ask the person who invited you to join, why they did so? Did they do it because they're just a kind and charitable person? If they say Yes, then it's a scam.

Next, ask them if the scheme is a registered company somewhere. Hopefully they'll tell you that it's registered in Botswana and approved by NBFIRA but maybe they'll say it's registered and approved in another country. If so, ask for proof. Then check if it's true. If you don't know how to check, ask us.

Ask them how money is generated by the scheme. People marketing a legitimate investment scheme will talk about share or commodity prices, dividends or the income a company can expect from selling products and services. People marketing a scam will be less specific. They'll talk about cryptocurrency or forex trading, Bitcoin mining or just say it's a motshelo or 'gifting' scheme. If you ask them how money is generated they'll just talk about 'where' the money comes from, not 'how'. Because they have no answers.

Those promoting a genuine investment will welcome questions. They'll want you to get complete answers to every question you have. However, scammers will very quickly become defensive and ask you why you're asking so many questions. "Just trust me", they'll say. Anyone who says this is trying to scam you.

Above all, scammers will make incredible claims about how much money you can make from their scheme. They'll tell you that small 'investments' you can earn a great deal of money. Anyone who says this is a scammer. They'll also often ask you to invest more and more money, encouraging you to 'upgrade' to a higher level with promises of even greater profits. That's a sure sign of a scam.

A common trick they'll try is to show you bank payment messages. Many of these are faked, that's very easy to do, but a few will be genuine because they do sometimes pay the victims a little money to make the scam seem legit. It's not, it's a criminal enterprise and the law makes it just as illegal to join a scam as it does to promote one.

Finally, remember this simple truth. Anyone who invites you to join their money-making scheme wants to make money from you, not with you.

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