The Nigerian apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has compelled banks to refund N6.2 billion to customers following the investigation of over 6000 complaints relating to unauthorized bank charges in 2015.
The charges, in no particular order, include maintenance fees charged monthly on current accounts, value added tax on virtually every charge against a customer (SMS), charges for both online and over-the-counter transactions and remote-on-us charges, that is, charges incurred for using another bank’s ATM in withdrawing money more than three times in a month.
Director, Corporate Communication Department of the CBN, Alhaji Ibrahim Muazu, stated this in a press release titled, “Alleged Excess, Illegal Charges by Deposit Money Banks (DMBs).” He said, “The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has received a series of complaints from customers of Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) alleging excessive, and in some cases illegal, charges from their respective banks. The Revised Guide to Bank Charges clearly specifies allowable charges for all banking services and the CBN does not in any way condone the fleecing of banking customers under any guise.”
He further reiterated that the Customer Protection Department was established by the CBN to provide a strong voice to bank customers and to moderate the arbitrary charges by commercial banks. This is, however, not the first time the CBN is compelling commercial banks to refund illegal charges but now, the apex bank has promised to continually checkmate banks and protect customers from illegal and excessive charges.
The CBN also urged members of the public to report cases of infringement to allow for proper investigations and possible sanctions on any erring bank while urging customers to forward complaints of excessive bank charges to the Director, Consumer Protection Department via mail: [email protected]
While this is a major step by CBN to hinder the almost fraudulent activities of commercial banks, there is still some work to be done. The apex bank still needs to review the Consumer Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CAFON)and the Coalition of Nigerian Consumer Protection Associations complaint on the stamp duty charge in line with their plans to set aside Tuesday, March 1, 2016 as ‘No Banking Day.’