Bank forcibly withdraws money from customer account to settle credit card bills
HDFC Bank took Rs 56,763 from a customer's account in an unauthorised manner to settle alleged debt on a credit card which was neither requested nor used.
This episode occurred at the HDFC Gurguram branch where the bank issued a credit card to a customer (name withheld) which was received but never used.
In 2015-16, the bank started sending bills of Rs 14,500 for a card which was never requested but received and not used. When the customer enquired there was no response.
When the customer approached the branch manager, he was asked to destroy the card and send it to the Chennai office which he did in his presence. However, to his chagrin, the customer continued to receive credit card statements. The harassed customer then started writing emails to Aditya Puri, the chairman of the bank. While these emails were acknowledged there was no closure in the matter. The follow-ups were constant on the pry of the customer but all to no avail. The bank started harassing the customer again in 2021 when the customer's employer was called for credit card bills.
The bank then sent a legal notice for the credit card. The same customer also had an HDFC Standard Life policy and when the amount matured, HDFC Bank debited Rs 56,763 from the bank account in lieu of the credit card bills.
The bank is not permitted by RBI guidelines to hold money from the savings account to pay for this debt. This debt arose from a credit card and should have been treated as a separate issue. What is worse is that as part of the redemption process a cancelled cheque of Kotak Mahindra Bank was provided, HDFC Life continuously delayed the settlement saying it had not received the mail. When after repeated entreaties the amount was credited into the said account, said money evaporated.
The bank has not provided any statement of transactions and 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 Prepayment 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 received but disputed from the outset by the rightful owner.
The Bank and the collection agencies have made several attempts to call and harass the client which has been put on record. The recorded emails show that repeatedly a clarity was requested from the bank to show how the credit card was even used by the client. The bank has fled from its responsibility.
There is no record that the 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 arose at 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. That the client repeatedly visited the Gurugram Branch to clarify the matter but the whole matter was denied without providing any justification since 2014.
As per RBI guidelines, banks have restricted access to exercise their right to lien. The bank cannot exercise a lien over a personal account of a customer. According to 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 debit the savings account with a huge amount of interest is a deficiency of service as well as malpractice which affects lakhs of customers on a daily basis.
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