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Ombud: Check your bank statements thoroughly

Dec 24 2019 14:45
Compiled by Carin Smith

Allegations of maladministration by banks accounted for 39% of the almost 6 000 cases completed by the Ombudsman for Banking Services (OBS) so far this year - costing consumers thousands of rand.

Complaints included disputes regarding fees and charges.

"Do not leave anything to chance, errors can happen, and this costs consumers many thousands of rand," Reana Steyn, the Ombudsman for Banking Services, said in a statement this week. She emphasised the importance of checking bank statements and keeping records of conversations and arrangements.

In cases where the OBS found maladministration on the part of the banks, there were signs that a human error or a system error could have been involved.

"We encourage bank customers to be vigilant, and it is very important to keep signed records of agreements and to report any incorrect entries or balances on their accounts to their banks immediately," said Steyn.

"Maladministration" refers to a range of issues, for example, the unilateral changing of the agreed contractual repayment term; a decrease or increase in the agreed monthly instalment; or the failure to appropriately adjust the instalment or interest rate.

These could result in the term of the agreement being extended or an incorrect balance, resulting in customers having to pay more than what was agreed on.

"It is natural to trust that bank statements are always correct and that errors are unlikely. However, the OBS receives complaints relating to maladministration on a daily basis," said Steyn.

Therefore, bank customers must take the time to go through their account statements, because it is possible that the balance, repayment or outstanding loan period could be incorrect.
 
"The ombudsman is often in the best position to identify and investigate maladministration by banks as and when it occurs. Customers can assist by being vigilant and querying their statements and balances timeously," said Steyn.

Her office investigates complaints involving disputed outstanding balances and terms on home loans, personal loans and revolving credit plans on a daily basis.

If the OBS finds that there was maladministration by a bank, it has the power to direct the bank to rectify the situation for the customer. In addition, the OBS may direct that the bank offers a nominal award for distress and inconvenience. Each case is decided on its own merits.

Complaints may be lodged with the OBS via email, its website or telephonically.

banking  |  maladministration  |  ombudsman
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