Abu Dhabi: Banks have taken to naming and shaming defaulting debtors by contacting their companies, XPRESS has learnt.
Many debtors complained that recovery agents appointed by banks use intimidating tactics such as threatening to contact companies directly unless they clear pending instalments.
Maneesh. R (name changed on request), an Indian expatriate, said agents sent by a bank came to his office four times and even called his manager.
“I have told them clearly that the issue is between the bank and me. My employer has nothing to do with this and that they are anyways not going to pay off my debt,” said the sales account group manager with a private firm in Abu Dhabi.
Maneesh had an outstanding payment of Dh25,000 on his credit card when he lost his job in 2009. “I returned to India and I came back in 2011 after I landed a new job. But for two months the bank has been calling me saying I owe them Dh150,000,” he said.
Maneesh agreed to pay his default amount (Dh25,000) but the bank is forcing him to pay Dh60,000 as the last negotiated amount. “I am ready to face the legal implications. But they are more interested in harassing me through late night calls and trying to get me sacked by contacting my manager,” said an irate Maneesh.
Similar pressure tactics are being used by other banks. Sunny, an Indian expat, said he had to plead with a recovery agent who came to his office and threatened to go to the HR department.
“He was wearing a kandoura though he wasn’t Emirati. He came to my office last month and created a scene at the reception,” he said.
Sunny ran into financial trouble after his hardware business failed to take off. He took a loan of Dh250,000 a year ago from a local bank but defaulted on his payments after his shop closed down six months ago.
He is now working as a sales coordinator in Abu Dhabi with a small salary to support his family. “I have informed the bank in writing that I will settle my dues if they give me a few month’s time. But they are not ready to listen and keep harassing me and my wife on the phone,” said Sunny.
When XPRESS spoke to a recovery agent at a local bank, he said “We do not use violence or harass people. But some customers do not take their financial commitments seriously and think they can get away. In such cases we have to put some pressure on them,” said the agent on condition of anonymity.
Legal experts who deal with financial crimes say banks harass customers into paying because legal recourse is a time-consuming affair. “If debtors default on payments, banks can file legal suits against them. But it is long process that can take months, especially if the other party contests the claim amount,” said a legal expert who did not want to be named.