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HDFC Bank refuses to address customer's credit card woes

 
New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) After it came to light that private lender HDFC Bank took Rs 56,763 from a customers account in an unauthorised manner to settle alleged debts on a credit card, which was neither requested nor used, the bank is yet to address the grievance of the customer.

While a senior official of HDFC Bank called the customer to say that he would look into the matter, almost three weeks have passed since and no action has been taken yet.

The customer, meanwhile, has reported the matter to the RBI Ombudsman.

This episode occurred at an HDFC Gurugram branch where the bank issued a credit card to a customer (name withheld), which was never asked for, nor used.

In 2015-16, the bank started sending bills of Rs 14,500 for the card which was never requisitioned. When the customer enquired, there was no response.

After the customer approached the branch manager about the card, at the latter's behest, the customer went on to destroy the card in his presence and send it to the Chennai office.

Concurrently, mails were sent to HDFC CMD Aditya Puri. The matter lingered on till harassment and virtual stalking of the customer began again. The harassment was stepped up by the bank as the customer's employer was called for credit card bills.

Again, there was no reply to mails from the customer.

The bank then sent a legal notice for the credit card. The same customer also had a HDFC Standard Life policy and when the amount matured, HDFC Bank debited Rs 56,763 from the client's bank account in lieu of the credit card bills. This was deducted with interest despite the customer having given a cancelled cheque of a different bank. There was no communication from the bank to the customer.

The bank is not permitted by RBI guidelines to hold money from the savings account to pay for this debt. This debt arised from a credit card and should have been treated as a separate issue.

The bank has not provided any statement of transactions or cash memo, which is actually signed by the bank customer, or any document which proves that the credit card was requested or used.

The credit card is a pre-payment plan instrument and requires the bank to make sure that if the instrument is issued, it should be in possession of the rightful owner and not some frivolous record in the database. The card/instrument was never received by the rightful owner.

The bank and the collection agencies have made several attempts to call and harass the client, which have been put on record. The recorded e-mails show that repeatedly a clarity was requested from the bank to show how the credit card was even received by the client. The bank has escaped its responsibility.

There is no record that a request was made for such a credit card. The credit card is not showing on the HDFC portal and no data is available to even challenge the claim. The bank has prevented the client from genuine information in order to bring clarification to the matter and has left the client to the scrutiny and illegal practice of various collection agencies.

The matter came up at an HDFC Gurugram branch but the office to pursue the matter was addressed in Chennai for no specific reason. This was done to make it inaccessible for the client to clarify the issue. The client repeatedly visited the Gurugram branch to clarify the matter, but the entire episode was denied without providing any justification.

As per RBI guidelines, banks have restricted access to exercise thier rights to lien. The bank cannot exercise lien over a personal account of a customer. According to the guidelines, a credit card account is always separate since a person acts in a different capacity than his understanding of the savings account.

The failure of the bank to bring clarity to the matter and suddenly decide to cease the savings account is a deficiency of service as well as a malpractice, which affects lakhs of customers on a daily basis.

--IANS
san/arm