Dubai: A senior official at the UAE Central Bank on Wednesday confirmed that it is illegal to obtain blank cheques as guarantees to secure loans or credit cards issued by financial institutions and urged residents not to be pressured by banks into handing out blank cheques.

“More than 90 per cent of bank customers do not know that blank cheques cannot be used as evidence against them in a court case. The rules changed nearly one year ago, and while blank cheques were used as a bank guarantee against them, they are not any longer,” said the official.

The official explained that customers have the right to refuse issuing blank cheques to banks, and that if they are required to do so, they should request for a loan from another bank instead. He stressed that blank cheques issued to lenders cannot be used in court, and are considered illegal.

“If customers want to apply for a loan, credit card or an overdraft, the amount requested in the cheque should be written by the customer and not be filled out by the bank. However, each bank has their own policies and some do not give out these facilities if a blank cheque is not issued. And that is the right of each bank to do so,” he said.

“But it should be stressed that blank cheques will not be used as evidence against them in court and the customer will only be liable for the amount of money taken, and not be liable for additional interest,” said the official.

“Almost all banks use this sort of security method to put pressure on their customers, but they should be aware that is not the case. And it is illegal for bank customers to pay any additional interest on their loans,” he said.

The confirmation was made in response to the launch of Dubai Police’s two-week campaign to raise awareness about bounced cheques and cheques issued in bad faith.

The campaign aims to change the mindset of residents and companies, and also seeks to highlight that cheques should only be used to fulfil monetary transactions and not as a guarantee that a certain amount will be paid.

According to Dubai Police records, the number of bounced cheque cases increased in 2013 compared to 2012. In 2013, there were 79,525 cases of bounced cheques, of which 20,046 were resolved out of court. In 2012, there were 68,707 such cases, of which 20,512 were resolved amicably.

Gulf News spoke to several banks across the country and they confirmed that, as per the new regulations issued last year, they have stopped requesting blank cheques from customers.

“We do not accept blank cheques any more but cheques that have a confirmed amount, as written by the customer,” said a customer service representative from the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD).

“The cheques we receive now do not have any interest charged to the amount, and the amount taken by the bank customer is the same amount that should be written on the cheque and signed by the customer,” said the representative of NBAD.

An official at HSBC also confirmed that the bank follows the rules as stated by authorities, and that they also do not receive blank cheques from bank customers as security for loans or for any other type of finance.