Dubai: A Dubai resident got the shock of her life when her post-dated cheque worth Dh30,000 for her three-month rent was mistakenly encashed two months in advance.
The Filipina, who requested anonymity, said her troubles began when her bank cleared her cheque dated December 3 on October 3.
“I woke up to an auto-generated SMS saying a cheque amounting to Dh30,912 was being drawn from my account,” the tenant told Gulf News. “I called the bank’s customer service immediately to inform them that I had no cheques due for the day. And, since I wasn’t expecting any payments, I didn’t put any funds there.”
The tenant said the phone banking representative told her that post-dated cheques could be processed and cleared in advance and it was her responsibility to maintain the funds in her checking account. This response later proved to be erroneous as post-dated cheques can only be encashed on the stipulated date of clearing.
Not long after, the tenant again received an SMS from the bank saying her cheque was returned unpaid due to insufficient funds.
The tenant said she liaised with her property management to check why they had presented the cheque on the wrong date when in fact she had official receipts from them saying her cheques are dated June 3, September 3, December 3, 2016, and March 3, 2017.
Her property manager responded saying she believed it was a “bank error” as the landlord hands all the cheques over to his personal bank once he receives it. “It is up to the [landlord’s] bank to deposit the cheque on the correct date,” the property manager said in an email.
The landlord’s bank was the one who sent scanned copies of the cheques to the Filipina’s bank. It was a bank to bank transaction — this is where the confusion began.
In an emailed response to the Filipina, the bank’s Complaint Resolution Unit said: “We would like to inform you that the cheque was dated 03 October 2016.”
When contacted, a spokesperson from the Filipina’s bank said: “We have investigated the matter and noted that the cheque was processed and returned according to the standard cheque clearing process and we have not found any error from our side.”
The spokesperson said they have explained the issue to the client. However, they are unable to reverse any charges and the case will be “treated as bounced cheque as per cheque return policy”.
Gulf News closely scrutinised the copy of the cheque and the date read “Dec.”, short for December. The abbreviated word, however, could also be read as the cursive form of “Oct” if read from a certain angle. But if all the words in the cheque were considered, the letter “T” in the rest of the words is visibly different from the supposedly letter “T” in “Oct.” as read by the bank.
The tenant said she fears that the incident would mire her clean financial record.
“The fine is not an issue. What I’m concerned with is if this bounced cheque would reflect in my credit report. I’ve always made sure to keep my payments up to date. I do not want any bad record. It is my right to demand for that error to be struck from my records,” the Filipina said.
“If it was my fault, I’d gladly accept it. Clearly, this was not my own doing, but how come I am the one left to suffer?”
HOW TO CONTEST AN ITEM ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT
Gulf News approached the Al Etihad Credit Bureau (AECB) to check if this incident would appear in the Filipina’s credit report. A spokesperson said: “According to the Central Bank regulations that came into effect in September 2015, all UAE banks are mandated to provide Al Etihad Credit Bureau with five years’ history of Bounced Cheque data. Banks are currently providing credit, default and bounced cheque data on a monthly basis.”
But the spokesperson said customers can also file a dispute and it will be corrected based on evidence presented. Customers must first avail of a valid Credit Report (issued in the last 60 days) from AECB Customer Service Centres in Abu Dhabi or Dubai before proceeding. The document costs Dh110.
“We urge customers to periodically check their credit reports in order to identify any possible errors that may have been wrongfully submitted by the data providers. In such cases, we have a clear dispute process that is designed to assist concerned parties and track the progress of the dispute correction, if valid, with the data provider in accordance with the timelines permissible by law,” the spokesperson said.
1) A dispute can be also raised by sending an email to Disputes@aecb.gov.ae.
2) Attach a scanned copy of the filled dispute form available on the AECB website as well as any relevant supporting document (eg bank statement, payment receipts, contract repayment schedule, clearance letter or in this case a copy of the disputed cheque, etc).