Banks Should Notify Every Depositor About Maintaining-Balance Increase

By Nora

Ha? Closed na ang account ko at wala na yong pera ko? Malaki rin ang 9,000 pesos ah!

A number of OFWs have commented on our blogs expressing their shock upon finding out that their savings accounts had been closed and their money wiped out due to below-maintaining-balance penalties.

They did not know that the maintaining balance requirement for their type of account had increased. This has been specially true for OFWs who work abroad in areas far from commercial centers.

The BSP has specific regulations requiring banks to inform account owners about changes related to service charges and bank fees.

We've been enjoying free emails for decades now, so there's no reason why banks can't use emails to inform their account owners about changes in their policies that have direct impact on depositors.

Excerpts from the BSP Manual of Regulations for Banks (MORB)

X263.1   Amendments to terms and conditions for the imposition of service charges/fees.
Part II -- Page 41

Any change in the terms and conditions for the imposition of service charges and/or maintenance fees, e.g., increase in the amount of such charges and fees or increase in the required minimum monthly average daily balance of deposits, shall take effect only after due notice to the depositor:

Provided, That information by regular mail, statement of account messages, electronic mail, courier delivery and/or other alternative modes of communication on the depositor’s last known address at least sixty (60) days prior to implementation shall be considered sufficient notice:

Provided, further, That failure of the depositor to manifest or register his objection to the new service charges and maintenance fees or any change in their terms and conditions in writing within thirty (30) days from receipt of written notice of amendment shall be deemed to constitute acceptance of such changes, for purposes of this Subsection.

Banks shall likewise post said information on their respective websites, Automated Teller Machine on-screen messages, and in conspicuous places within the bank premises and other places near the bank’s own Automated Teller Machine at least sixty (60) days prior to implementation.

Sec. X263.  Service and Maintenance Fees 
Page II -- Pages 40 to 41

Banks may impose and collect service charges and/or maintenance fees on savings and demand deposit accounts, whether active or dormant, that fall below the required minimum monthly average daily balance (ADB), subject to the following conditions:

a. the imposition of such charges or fees is clearly stated among the terms and conditions of the deposit;
b. the rate or amount of such charges or fees is properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit;
c. the deposit account balances have fallen below the required minimum monthly ADB for dormant accounts and for at least two (2) consecutive months for active accounts;
d. the required minimum monthly ADB of deposits are properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit; and
e. in the case of charges and fees for dormant accounts or dormancy fee, the period of dormancy as prescribed under Subsec. X185.12 shall be properly disclosed among the terms and conditions of the deposit, and that the depositors shall be informed by registered mail with return card or Proof of Delivery (POD) service of the Philippine Postal Corporation and other mail couriers on his last known address at least sixty (60) days prior to the imposition of dormancy fee.

Said Proof of Delivery Receipt will be accomplished upon the addressee depositor’s receipt of the letter, with the postal personnel or courier required to obtain and safekeep a copy of the signed POD, for submission to the sender/bank.
The PhilPost system likewise employs a Delivery/Monitoring Report that tallies the number of mails with POD received, delivered and returned per client/bank, indicating the name of the letter carrier, his signature and date signed.
Said POD and Delivery/Monitoring Report may be system generated by the bank so as not to rely on the manual inscription of the required information by the PhilPost and/or other mail courier personnel.

Regardless of the forms adopted by the PhilPost and/or other mail couriers, the proper implementation of the POD service requires as a minimum, that the following information be stated clearly:
(1) name and address of the addressee/ depositor;
(2) actual date of delivery/receipt;
(3) name and address of sender/bank; and
(4) name of recipient and relationship to the addressee/depositor.

Banks which erroneously charged service or maintenance fees shall reverse or credit back the amount of such charges to the respective deposit accounts that meet the required monthly ADB, within three (3) months from 03 June 2011.

Depositors whose accounts were erroneously charged with these fees since 23 June 2005 but whose deposit accounts have since been closed shall likewise be given appropriate notices sent to their last known mailing address.

Notices on the proper interpretation of the regulations on the imposition of service charges and maintenance fees on deposit accounts shall likewise be posted in conspicuous places within the premises of all banks. (As amended by M-2011-030 dated 03 June 2011)

How to File a COMPLAINT

If you lost a fairly big amount, and you believe the bank violated the above regulations, you can do this:

1.  Write a letter of complaint to your bank. State your account name and account number, the amount that you lost, penalty cited, debit dates, and request it to be credited back to your account. State why you believe the penalties should not have been imposed on your account. Cite the exact regulation in the above MORB Section.

2.  Present your letter of complaint to your bank and have it received. Request to talk to the manager. Be calm and polite but be firm.

3.  If the bank does not help you with your concern, you can ask help from the  Financial Consumer Affairs Group (FCAG) of the BSP.

The FCAG says that you may send your written complaint through postal mail, email, fax or you may  go to the FCAG office at the BSP Complex along Mabini St. in Malate, Manila.

You can be helped better if you can give FCAG the following:

 - Complaint letter (types or legibly printed)
 - Telephone number/s where you can be reached during the day
 - Detail of the issues being raised
 - The resolution you are requesting
 - Duly received copy of the letter of complaint sent to the bank and the bank's reply, if any
 - Copies of supporting letter or other documents that would substantiate or prove your claim

For more information about pursuing your complaint, go to the BSP Financial Consumer Affairs Group page.


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