Man fails to complete credit card payment, HDFC bank does

HDFC Bank withdrew 56,763 rupees from a customer’s account in an unauthorized manner to settle an alleged debt on a credit card that was neither requested nor used.

This episode happened at 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 out invoices of Rs 14,500 for a card that was never requested but received and not used. When the customer inquired, 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, much to his chagrin, the customer continued to receive credit card statements. The harassed customer then began to write emails to Aditya Puri, the president of the bank. Although these emails were acknowledged, the case has not been closed. The follow-ups were constant at the request of the customer but in vain. The bank started harassing the customer again in 2021 when the customer’s employer was called in over credit card bills.

The bank then sent a legal notice for the credit card. The same client also had a Standard Life HDFC policy and when the amount came due HDFC Bank debited Rs 56,763 from the bank account instead of the credit card bills.

The bank is not allowed by RBI guidelines to hold savings account money to pay off this debt. This debt came from a credit card and should have been treated as a separate issue. The worst part is that as part of the refund process a void check from Kotak Mahindra bank was provided, HDFC Life continually delayed the settlement saying it did not receive the mail. When, after repeated instances, the amount was credited to said account, said money evaporated.

The bank did not provide any transaction record and cash note actually signed by the bank customer or any document proving that the credit card was applied for or used.

The credit card is a prepayment plan instrument and requires the bank to ensure that if the instrument is issued, it must be in the possession of the rightful owner and not frivolously recorded in the database . The card / instrument has been received but contested from the outset by the rightful owner.

The Bank and collection agencies made several attempts to call and harass the client, which was recorded. The recorded emails show that on several occasions a clarification was requested from the bank to show how the credit card was even used by the customer. The bank shirked its responsibility.

There is no record that the request was made for such a credit card. The credit card does not appear on the HDFC portal and no data is available to even dispute the claim. The bank prevented the client from obtaining genuine information in order to shed light on the matter and left the client to the review and illegal practice of various collection agencies.

The case was raised at HDFC Gurugram branch, but the office to prosecute the case was referred to Chennai for no specific reason. This was done to make it inaccessible to the client to clarify the problem. That the client has visited the Gurugram branch on several occasions to clarify the matter, but the whole matter has been denied without providing any justification since 2014.

In accordance with RBI guidelines, banks have restricted access to exercise their lien right. The bank cannot exercise a privilege on the personal account of a customer. According to the guidelines, a credit card account is always separate since a person acts in a capacity other than their understanding of the savings account.

The bank’s inability to clarify the matter and suddenly decide to debit the savings account with a huge amount of interest is a service failure as well as malpractice that affects thousands of customers on a daily basis.

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