The Consumer

Owners of dormant bank accounts must be informed

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Many people, it appears, do not know that banks are required by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to inform clients before charging dormancy fees for accounts that have been inactive for a while.

And they probably also do not know that they can file a complaint with the BSP should their banks fail to communicate with them before charging dormancy fees on or closing their inactive accounts.

Under BSP Circular No. 485, issued in 2005 and which amended the Manual of Regulations for Banks (MORB), a bank must inform a depositor, by registered mail with return card sent to his/her last known address, at least 60 days before a dormancy fee is imposed on an inactive account. The BSP required banks to disclose to clients, as part of the terms and conditions of a deposit, charges and fees for dormant accounts and the period of dormancy as prescribed in another BSP directive.

Circular No. 485, while allowing the collection of service and maintenance fees on savings and demand deposit accounts with balances that fall below the required minimum monthly average daily balance (ADB), also set the following conditions:

• The imposition of such charges or fees is clearly stated among the terms and conditions of the deposit.

• The rate/amount of such charges or fees is properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit.

• The deposit account balance has fallen below the required minimum monthly ADB for dormant accounts and for at least two consecutive months for active accounts.

• The required minimum monthly ADB of deposits are properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit.

The circular stressed that changes in the terms and conditions for the imposition of service charges/fees, such as increases in such charges/fees or in the required minimum monthly ADB, should take effect only after the depositor had been duly notified.

The information might be sent by regular mail or included as a message in the statement of account, by electronic mail, courier delivery and/or other alternative modes of communication to the depositor’s last known address at least 60 days prior to implementation of the changes.

The depositor would have 30 days, upon receipt of the information, to manifest his/her objection in writing. Failure to do so would be considered as acceptance of the changes.

Banks were also required to post the information on their “websites, automated teller machine on-screen messages, and in conspicuous places within the bank premises and other places near the bank’s own ATM at least 60 days prior to implementation.”

Anti-counterfeit drive

Hewlett-Packard (HP) and the BSP are collaborating in a campaign to fight counterfeiting. Launched recently at the Trinoma mall, “No to Fakes, Know the Original” aims to raise public awareness on the proliferation of counterfeit goods and encourages people to buy only the real thing.

HP toners and cartridges are popular targets for counterfeiters. Some of the fakes, according to HP, are even priced the same as the original, although they do not last as long or perform as efficiently as the real thing. One risk in using fake toners and cartridges is, they can cause serious damage to the equipment.

Of course, attempts to counterfeit money continue despite efforts by the government to make the currency secure. The latest series of peso bills contains several security features, including those that will help people tell the difference between the fake and the real thing even in the dark. There are security features that aim to make it easy for the visually-impaired to use the latest peso versions.

Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail lbolido@inquirer.com.ph.

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