Tuesday, 16 April 2013
CBN recovers N8.6b for bank customers
Speaking to journalists on the activities of the CBN’s Consumer Protection Department in Abuja yesterday, the Director of Consumer Protection, Hajia Umma Dutse, said: “The N6 billion figure that the governor gave was the figure that he had. I think the current figure that I am giving you, since we started — and we have been able to recover N8.6billion. We have been able to recover more than N8.6billion in favour of various consumers.”
She said: “So far, the department has received and treated over 2800 complaints from consumers against deposit money banks as at the end of first quarter of 2013.”
Some banks, she said, have been fined N2 million for these infractions.
This figure “excludes complaints that have to do with ATM and other electronic related complaints and also complaints from other financial institutions, like the micro finance institutions, the primary mortgage institutions; it is just complaints against the deposit money banks.”
The complaints, Mrs Dutse noted, “are mostly complaints that have to do with excess charges, conversion, fraud and such other complaints.”
For now the CBN has decided to exclude ATM and other electronic complaints “because those are treated by bank payment department for now but eventually, I know when the structure is approved, the process will come to consumer protection department”.
She told The Nation that her department had “received complaints against all banks in the country but some banks had more complaints from their customers than others.”
Mrs. Dutse said “there are various categories of complaints and the length of time for resolution usually depends on the nature and complexity of the complaint”.
For example, a customer may complain of refusal of his bank to issue him a bank statement while another consumer may complain of excess charges over a long period of time, but our regulation is clear-that financial institutions must resolve all complaints within two weeks of receiving such.”
Any case that cannot be resolved within two weeks, she explained, “must be referred to the Central Bank – in line with the help desk circular that we issued out to banks, but with the benefit of experience that I mentioned, I can tell you that certain categories of complaints take a longer time to resolve.”
Complaints that have to do with excess charges, fraud and some that may require legal interpretation take more than a few days to resolve.
The Consumer Protection amazon who the CBN governor described as “ruthless” in pursuing customer complaints against banks said the CBN was very worried at the incidence of banks cheating customers.
To check these, she said the CBN “is going to put a very strong monitoring clients team that is going to ensure that the banks do what they are supposed to do and I can assure you with time, the banks will stop all the excess charges.”
Mrs. Dutse said the CBN and her department in particular “have had course to sanction some banks for breach of regulatory directives.”
“In addition, the banks are compelled to indicate in their annual financial statements all these breaches, so I don’t think banks would want shareholders to be seeing all the statistics that they are not consumer friendly or this is what they do to their customers.
Her adivse to Nigerians is that they should be financially literate and understand financial products and services. Nigerians should not “just sign any contract with your bank, try to understand what is there and take advantage of the Central Bank of Nigeria consumer protection initiatives.
Source: The Nation