Business | Banking

Banks call up companies to embarrass debtors in UAE

Credit collectors use intimidation, shaming of debtors before employers to recover loans

  • By Anjana Sankar, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 21:00 June 12, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: Getty Images/Goodshoot RF
  • Banks say they are using pressure on defaulters who do not pay despite repeated reminders

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.

Comments (40)

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  1. Added 13:43 June 13, 2013

    Two year back one of my cuisine lost the job and he go back to India at that time he having lot of debts in UAE banks. now bank agents calling us and harassing. we don't know who gave the mobile numbers. presently he is not in well position to pay that debt and we dont know what will do?

    Aparna, Duabi, India

  2. Added 13:35 June 13, 2013

    I lost my job last November, due to some issues my visa was not cancelled for six months but i was paying my loan amount in time by cash deposit. one lady from the bank called me and told that she dont want cash deposit, she needs salary transfer. otherwise she will file a case against me. since i dont know much about UAE law, i approached the company who have offered me a new job and submitted the offer letter to the bank. Even i dont have any outstanding this lady spoke to me very harshly.

    Mathew, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 13:35 June 13, 2013

    I had missed one payment(3months back) to the bank on my credit card, which by the way was suspended long back because i had been unable to pay my card due for 3 months in a row due to job change and other commitments. Anyways i bought down the amount by paying regularly to a modest 2500Dhs pending and an approx due amount of 150dhs. i missed one month payment, i got 5 phone calls, from multiple no.s -mobile and landline, 3 sms's and an email threatening legal action. i know the amount mentioned above are more than 10K but i was being harassed for 150dhs which was the due amount!!! i was tempted to write an email back to them asking them details as to their suffrage due to my one missed payment! After multiple calls to the bank i have yet to get my card reactivated. i finally got it cancelled... BEST thing ever.. im free from menacing calls for 150dhs and im happy without credit card.

    D, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 12:31 June 13, 2013

    Banks never acknowledge when a customer submit credit shield claim documents. And there won't be any answer for two to three weeks time. As a rule, an employee gets one month notice period and he/she has to find a job or go back to home country. Credit Shield gives protection for due amount as per term and conditions of bank when job lost. However, I got a response after 10 months from my bank. Probably bank has every right to keep information confidential level but customer must get response for his application for the claim. Poor customer suffers always.

    SAJEEV, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 12:21 June 13, 2013

    People take huge loans and then cry to pay it back ,just remember its the banks money not yours.So face the consequences if you default

    John, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 11:58 June 13, 2013

    This is completely true and i have been going through the same harassment from a bank for the past two years. When i took the loan i had a government job and then i lost the job and the new employer was not ready to give STL, and when i submitted all my new visa documents address proof and everything to the bank requesting them to reduce the monthly EMI as my salary was reduced, they said they will do it with additional interest. Since then i have been trying to clear this, and every time the payment is delayed i get threatening calls from them through recovery agents informing that they will come to my office and take me to the police station. This is not only a pressure they are adding but a total mental harassment, by not providing adequate solution and helping me in fulfilling the loan. Now i have a balance of AED 6000/- from a total of AED 199000/-. Even after paying an interest of more than AED 45000/- they are not will to remove the late payment charges of AED 1100/- and are threatening me to pay it within Sunday or else i will be jailed. This is how the banks especially the local banks are harassing the customers which is really stressful and for a normal person at times leads to depression and forces him to take unnecessary actions. I wish Central Bank really looks into these matters more vigilantly.

    Praveen DSouza, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 11:42 June 13, 2013

    It is 100% true that banks are harassing the customer by Complaining to their Company and insulting customer infront of everybody. They even not listen to the customer, neither they given proper appointment, information nor they pick-up their phone calls. It happens to me when bank gave me false final settlement offer and after clearing their settlement amount I started receiving statement again for the remaining amount. Now when I am contacting collection team (them) then they are saying ignore the statement and when I tried to call customer care they are saying contact collection department as they cannot do anything. Some one needs to find a solution for these Bank's indecent and false behavior, either Government, Media or Banks Higher management. I am sure Higher managements are not aware of these tactise played by their department in charge.

    Siddique, Doha, Qatar

  8. Added 11:08 June 13, 2013

    Very bad attitude, when law is in place why bank is doing this, this shows clearly they don't respect the law. Law should blacklist the bank who are doing this 3rd rated way.

    Shareen, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 10:40 June 13, 2013

    once banks dole out money..they become the enemy.. banks gives loans to people whome it thinks are eligible..when they default then they harass anyone who answers their calls. I have attended many calls from banks where the employees have defaulted. My question to them is. 'did you consult me before you gave the loan??? so stop harassing us and find your venues to locate defaulters. banks sometimes is a friend in deed yet they can be nasty and become an enemy you dont need...

    kadija, sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 10:12 June 13, 2013

    Collections department is trained to do all these things. I have settled my payments after their harassments day and night. They called my parents in India and started yelling on them using all bad words Still I have been running for one month to get my NOC. Also calling companies should be banned. File a police case if the person is not responding but you cannot call his employer or office phone. While giving salary certificates for loan employer/company clearly states they are not responsible for any personal banking of their employee. There must be some legal ruling against these collection departments if they do so.

    Mohammed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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