By Racheal Ishaya
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said any bank that deducts monies illegally from a customer’s account for products and services would be forced to refund the money to the customer with interest.
Mr Fada David, Consumer Complaints Management, Consumer Protection Department, CBN, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
This is sequel to complaints by bank customers within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) over excess charges by banks through Automated Teller Machine (ATM) withdrawals.
The customers said as a result of the development, they dreaded making withdrawals using other banks ATMs because of the continued charge of N65 for every transaction.
According to the customers, most banks within the city centre have programmed their ATMs to dispense only N10,000 or less per transaction, thus ripping off customers withdrawing more than that amount.
The customers complained that if they had to withdraw N100,000 or more through other banks ATM, it meant they would be charged between N455 and N650 to complete the transaction.
According to the CBN regulation, customers will be charges N65 per withdrawal from their 4th withdrawal within one month using a machine not operated by the institution they bank with.
By this a person who wants to withdraw N100,000 from a machine that dispenses only N10,000 at a time will have to do the transaction 10 times and would be charged between N455 to N650.
The FCT customers therefore called on the CBN and other relevant authorities to look into the matter so as to help poor Nigerians.
According to David, the Monetary Policy Circular of the CBN gives certain guidelines as to how much should be refunded to customers if excess charges are discovered.
“Part of the punitive measures is that if excess charges are discovered, they are refunded to consumers with interest,” he said.
David, however, assured bank customers that the CBN monitors all banks regularly to make sure that banks do not short-change them.
He also encouraged customers to read the CBN’s Guide to Bank Charges circular to know those charges that their banks were allowed to charge and the correct amount.
“Consumers should consult this document to know how much they are expected to pay for services.
“When you go through it and in a situation where you see charges that you do not understand, you have the right to write your bank and get them to explain what the charges are.
“In a situation where it becomes clear that the customer was charged excessively, the customer should get them to reverse it.
“You have the right to know how much you are charged from operating your account and make sure that the bank only charges the specified amount,” he said.
Also, Mr Oludamola Atanda of the Consumer Education Division, Consumer Protection Department, CBN, urged bank customers to demand for their statement of account monthly.
He said that it would help customers to monitor their accounts closely.
“You have the right to demand for the right product and services. The bank cannot force you to go for a specific product or loan facility. You have the right to choose.
“If they give you a product you do not like, you do not have to take it. Its important for us to understand this.
“There is also the issue of right to privacy. My bank should not share my details with just anybody. For instance, a wife cannot come and say she wants details of her husband’s account.
“Only by court order can an account details by revealed to a third party,” he said.
Atanda said at times, customers complain about certain bank products because they were not properly informed about the products.
“If I am taking a product, my bank has the responsibility to educate me on that product.
“If it is a savings product, a customer should know how it works, how many times to withdraw in a month, how much interest to expect and the minimum deposit on the account.
“We are saying that you have the right to demand good service. Those are the things we want to let customers know,” he said.