Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 27 October 2020

The Debt Panel: Pilot left UAE with Dh400,000 owed, debt collectors now chasing wife on Facebook

The pilot, now based in Thailand, says debt collectors have pressured him into a settlement that he cannot afford to repay on his current Dh18,000 monthly salary.
Clockwise from top left: Ambareen Musa, founder and chief executive of Souqalmal.com, The National columnist Keren Bobker, Rasheda Khatun from Financial Life Planner, and Jamel Alvi, chief credit officer of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, provide insights on why people are getting into excessive debt, how this situation can be resolved and where they can turn for help. Ravindranath K / The National and Marwan Alhammadi / The National
Clockwise from top left: Ambareen Musa, founder and chief executive of Souqalmal.com, The National columnist Keren Bobker, Rasheda Khatun from Financial Life Planner, and Jamel Alvi, chief credit officer of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, provide insights on why people are getting into excessive debt, how this situation can be resolved and where they can turn for help. Ravindranath K / The National and Marwan Alhammadi / The National

I was an airline pilot in the UAE and had to leave suddenly a year ago due to unforeseen family commitments. I left with an outstanding loan of Dh400,000. I am now in Thailand as my wife is Thai and I am earning a salary of about 70 per cent of the basic income I was earning in the UAE. I did not pay the loan back for two months because I was unemployed for a while. Now the UAE bank that lent me the money is asking me to pay Dh30,000 a month for 10 months and have sent debt collectors. They have contacted my wife via Facebook and threatened all sorts. I had already paid back Dh100,000 as an initial payment, however as I was pressured I accepted a settlement that in reality I can afford to pay back. I certainly cannot afford to pay Dh29,500 over a 10-month period. The debt collectors called me once while I was about to take off and issued severe threats to myself and my family; I thought this was discouraged by the banks but apparently it is very much occurring. I want others to be aware of these sorts of tactics. My UAE monthly salary totalled Dh38,000 (Dh26,000 basic with a housing and education allowance on top). Now I am earning Dh18,000. BA, Thailand

Debt panellist 1: Jamal Alvi, the chief credit officer at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Like all businesses, banking is based on mutual trust. The reason the bank is resorting to applying pressure on social media is probably because you did not leave your whereabouts with the bank. It is very important that you stay completely transparent to your bank, especially when switching jobs and moving across countries. I suggest that you call your bank, explain the whole situation and regain their trust. You will be amazed to see how the behaviour will change.

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

Unfortunately, debt collectors have come under scrutiny too often for using pressure tactics and threats to recover money from borrowers. You can complain to the bank about the harassment you’re facing from such recovery agents. But to make sure the problem goes away for good, you will have to find a way to negotiate a loan settlement with your bank.

Here’s what you can do to remedy the situation. The ideal solution would be to get in touch with the bank directly to renegotiate the terms of your loan. Since you’ve already paid off a quarter of your original outstanding loan amount, you can use this as a proof of positive intention in your negotiations with the bank. You can also provide the bank with proof of your current employment and salary received.

If this is difficult to do since you’ve moved out of the country, how about you appoint a legal representative who can negotiate a loan settlement with the bank on your behalf? A renegotiation of your loan terms may involve an extension of loan tenure or reduction in interest payments to design a revised repayment plan for you.

The Debt Panel brings together four financial experts: Jamal Alvi, the chief credit officer at Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank; Ambareen Musa, the founder and chief executive of the comparison website Souqalmal.com; Rasheda Khatun Khan, a wealth and wellness planner and founder of Design Your Life; and Keren Bobker, The National’s On Your Side columnist and an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Together they answer queries in a weekly online column to help readers better tackle their debts. If you have a question for the panel, write to pf@thenational.ae.

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Updated: December 13, 2016 04:00 AM

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