Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 October 2020

The Debt Panel: 'My bank gave me a credit card with a Dh60,000 limit that I didn't apply for'

The Dubai resident cancelled his loan and credit card applications but the lender's representative ignored his request

Mathew Kurian / The National
Mathew Kurian / The National

I am writing to you regarding a loan application I made with a bank in the UAE. During the application process, I was told by the agent that I could cancel it at any time before I provided my salary certificate letter.

Along with the loan, I also made a credit card application. However, prior to providing my salary certificate to proceed with the loan, I informed the agent that I wanted to cancel the credit card as I did not wish my debt burden ratio to be too high. The agent agreed to cancel the application.

I then provided my salary certificate to proceed with the loan, but also decided to cancel that application. When I did this, the agent then put through an application for a credit card with a Dh5,000 limit, then issued a card with a Dh60,000 limit, which has resulted in a debt to burden ratio of 56 per cent.

I immediately requested that the card be cancelled, but was informed by the agent that it will take 45 days, which is ridiculous to cancel a card that I did not request nor even receive. The agent then threatened to cancel the card in two days if I proceeded with the loan application. I have tried to make formal complaints with the bank to get the card closed, but my request have not been taken seriously.

Is there anything you can do to help me to resolve this issue as it is now showing on my credit report and causing problems with a mortgage application that I have made? Credit cards I have had with other banks have been closed in three days. Why is this bank claiming that it takes 45 days? SR, Dubai

Debt panellist 1: Philip King, head of retail banking at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

You have clearly demonstrated a sense of accountability and responsibility for your finances. It is concerning to see that your agent proceeded with the card application without your consent and has not offered to help. There is no reason that it should take 45 days if the card is not activated. Moreover, even if the card is activated, the bank management must make an effort to cancel the card as it carries a wrong limit.

With this form of misconduct, this matter should be escalated immediately to the higher representatives at the bank. Hopefully, you have a record of all your communications with the agent, especially those stating that you have no interest in a card or loan, as well as his threat to cancel the card. Reiterate how harmful this has been on your credit report.

The fact that he decided to submit an altered credit card application against your wishes is absolutely unethical

Ambareen Musa, founder and chief executive of Souqalmal.com

If no amicable solution is achieved, we recommend that you approach the Consumer Protection Department established by the Central Bank of the UAE to shield consumers from unfair banking practices.

When liaising with the Central Bank, it is necessary to provide proof, including copies of your financial statements, correspondences with the bank and all related paperwork. They will then review your case again to determine if there has been a breach of the law and deal with any misconduct that has been identified.

Debt panellist 2: Ambareen Musa, founder and chief executive of Souqalmal.com

It seems that the situation you're in is a result of both miscommunication and mismanagement on the bank representative's part as well as yours. The bank representative should have clearly explained the application withdrawal requirements to you, and should not have jumped the gun when submitting your application to be processed further.

The fact that the agent decided to submit an altered credit card application against your wishes is absolutely unethical. However, since you did initially sign the papers, it may boil down to a case of your word against his, unless you have documented proof of your timely cancellation request.

Add to that the fact that you changed your mind at the very last minute after submitting all the necessary documents and your salary certificate, the bank representative may be able to get off the hook more easily.

As for your question about the time it takes to cancel a credit card, banks in the UAE are allowed up to 45 days to process a credit card cancellation request. From checking for any dues on the credit card to making sure there aren't any future payments linked with it, the bank would need to initiate the standard checks to properly close your credit card account.

Even though your credit card is new and wrongfully issued according to you, the bank may still insist on doing so. One option in the interim is to request for your credit limit to be reduced to a figure you think is appropriate and does not negatively impact your debt burden ratio or credit score.

Using this as a cautionary example for the future, you must only go ahead with any sort of debt application if you're completely sure of it. And you should also take into account your ability to keep up with the repayments, early settlement fees and your personal financial circumstances before you place a request for a loan.

Debt panellist 3: Stuart Ritchie, chartered financial planner at AES International

The first thing to consider is if you have proof of the request to cancel both the loan and the card, whether that be an email or a WhatsApp message, for example. If this was a phone call, you can take a screen capture of the call details to show you made a call to the agent you’ve been in contact with and the length of that call. With that evidence, you can visit your bank branch and discuss your complaint with them in person.

The Central Bank’s information online indicates that it takes banks a minimum of 45 days to ensure all dues have been cleared, no future payments are scheduled and you (as the cardholder) aren’t liable to pay any other charges before providing a cancellation certificate. This is based on the bank’s internal banking practices and policies.

As this is a new card and providing you haven’t used it so far, you should have no credit to clear. If the bank is insistent on it taking 45 days when you speak to them again with your proof of cancellation request, it would be in your best interest to cut up the card so you’re unable to use it until the cancellation period is up.

Updated: October 14, 2020 09:38 AM

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