Have you checked the recently published list of bank debtors in Nigeria published by the Central Bank (CBN)? You may not have done that because there is absolutely no reason for that you may think. But what if you are wrong? The truth is, if you have a dormant bank account in Nigeria, you could be on CBN’s debtors list (not necessarily the one published). You may be a debtor, without knowing it. Your name may have been listed as having bad credit on the Credit Risk Management Bureau (CRMB)’s database with CBN and may show up when you least expect it. Such was the experience of a NL reader with a dormant Ecobank account and you need to be aware of this.
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Read his story below:
“I had a current account in Ecobank around 2011. My ex-employer moved our salaries there based on a nice presentation made by the Branch Manager of the Bank at the time. However, the promises made were not met, so the salary account was moved elsewhere and we all thought it ended there.
“More than three years later, I had left the company and was processing a loan with another bank. Near the completion of the deal, they called to tell me I was owing Ecobank. I was advised to sort it out with them before any progress could be made. I didn’t take any loan. The account didn’t have an overdraft facility. It was a basic current account from which you could never withdraw above your available balance at any point in time. How could I owe on the account?
“I called their customer care and the lady insisted I must have taken a loan. I insisted I did not, and tried to convince her to look into the account to see what could have happened. She rudely cut the call.
“I made a series of other calls and was linked to their Oke Afa, Isolo Branch where the account resided and was able to establish that it was my dormant account there that ran into negative. Ecobank made some routine charges on the account and when they depleted what was there, they made negative deduction of N119 and the negative started accumulating interest that had amounted to about N2,500 by late last year when I applied for a loan.
What manner of a bank would make deductions from a dormant account? I went to the bank and confronted them. An official explained that an account going dormant does not mean that charges could not be made on it. He said a man can be sleeping, but his bodily functions work nonetheless.
I paid off the money and obtained a letter of Non-indebtedness and took it to my new bank before they could process my loan. The great worry: what if I had not applied for a loan at another bank? How would I have known? Many decades later, maybe as a pensioner, one may now apply for something and they will tell you there’s a debt of a couple of millions of naira you need to clear.
“I’ve commenced the process of closing the account with Ecobank. Other dormant accounts I have are going too, even though some of the other banks are arguing that their own processes are different from Ecobank’s. They argue that typically, your dormant account holds the last balance there till you reactivate it. One said if at all any customer’s account goes into red, his bank had a standard procedure to call up the customer by phone to alert him. No one called me from Ecobank.
“How much was N119 that Ecobank would go ahead to list me as having a non-performing loan instead of calling me to clear it. The totality of my experience with Ecobank has been horrible to say the least. To even collect the Letter of Non-Indebtedness was a war. It took nearly 3 weeks of constant harassment to get it ready and on the day I was to pick it up, I spent three and a half hours in their banking hall,” he concluded.
So it may not be wrong after all to advise that you check if your name is on that CBN’s published list of debtors. It’s better to be safe than sorry right?