THE Bank of Ghana (BoG) has advised the general public, especially borrowers, not to hide from their financial institutions because they owe them.
It said hiding from their obligations undermined the cardinal principle of banking, which was trust.
The Head of the Conduct Supervision Unit of the central bank, Augustine Donkor, said at a day’s sensitisation workshop for staff of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) on June 8 that borrowers needed to be responsible by honouring their loan obligations as agreed.
But should they not be able to repay as scheduled with the institution, Mr Donkor said it was advisable for them to negotiate for new payment terms and dates rather than go into hiding.
Beyond giving the borrower a bad name, he said it risked breaking the trust that lenders had in customers.
This, he said, could impact negatively on the general integrity of the financial sector and the health of the institution in particular.
Mr Donkor was making a presentation on the theme: ‘Knowing your rights and responsibilities as a financial consumer’ at the workshop meant to sensitise the immigration staff to issues of finance.
It formed part of BoG’s efforts to deepen financial literacy by improving the knowledge of the public on financial issues.
The workshop with the GIS was one of many scheduled to take place under the financial literacy programme.
Mr Donkor also used the opportunity to sensitise the participants to the general strategies of financial scammers and further urged the public to avoid falling victim to their acts.
He mentioned sumptuous interest rates, pressure by the institution and its representatives to recruit customers for the product or rollover investments, frequent changes in management and the lavish lifestyle of the management as some of the red flags.
“Also, there is what we call the bandwagon effect. If everyone is rushing there to invest, then be careful. It does not mean the soup there is tastier.
“If the lifestyle of the people is lavish, be careful. If they are sponsoring events all over, watch out.
“Some also try to cover up their evil intentions by using celebrities as ambassadors,” the Head of the Conduct Supervision Unit said.
He also advised the public to keep taps on their investments and institutions that they saved with.
“When you invest in an institution, do not go to sleep; continue to monitor your account and investment.
“Be interested in what happens to the account, the deductions taking place, who the managing director of the institution and when he or she does, be interested in who replaces him/her because your money is there,” he added.
He said the consumers should also not hesitate to seek legal advise before taking up services from financial institutions.
Earlier, the Head of Financial Stability Department of the BoG, Dr Joseph O. France, said the central bank had recorded an upsurge in complaints by the public against some financial institutions that it regulated.
Dr France said these complaints bordered on non-disclosure of key information, wrongful application of interest on loans, imposition of unexplained charges, payment of remittances to wrong beneficiaries and other forms of financial fraud.
He said a critical assessment of the complaints showed that there was a knowledge gap among consumers on the services that these financial institutions offered.
“It was observed that many customers of banks and specialised deposit-taking financial institutions (SDIs) lack adequate appreciation of their rights and responsibility as consumers of financial services.
“It is in this light that the BoG continuously engages relevant segments of the public to provide relevant information aimed at financial awareness,” he said.
The Head of the central bank’s Financial Stability Department further assured the public that similar workshops and programmes would be organised for members of key organisations to help deepen their knowledge and reduce the complaints filed.