Don’t wait until September to tell banks you can’t pay

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations has urged borrowers who do not have the capacity to service their loans to get in touch with their banks soon.

“If you have genuine concerns about not being able to make the payments after Sept 30, contact the banks as soon as possible to explain your situation and seek to re-negotiate your loan.

“Don’t wait for September to communicate with the banks or wait for the banks to communicate with you,” said Fomca president Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason.

He was drawing on the moratorium for loan repayments that ends on Sept 30.

Marimuthu said the federation hoped that the banks would act with compassion and expressed confidence that Bank Negara Malaysia(BNM) would direct the banks to do so.

He also said those with a number of loans in a few banks can seek the help of the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency’s (AKPK).

“It is our understanding the AKPK is being strengthened to face the substantial increase of consumers expected to seek assistance.”

Marimuthu said AKPK would provide counselling or if required, restructure the multiple loans taken to safeguard the borrowers welfare.

“Again do not wait … contact AKPK as soon as possible to enable them to assess your situation and help you.”

He said while honest negotiations was the best way forward for borrowers in such a bind, those who feel their banks are being unreasonable should not hesitate to make an official complaint with BNM.

“It is our strongest and sincere hope that the Central Bank will respond speedily and effectively to consumer complaints and issues.”

“Where there is a genuine case of badly affected consumers not getting a fair and compassionate deal with the banks, the Central Bank must act to protect the consumers and ensure their financial well-being.”

Marimuthu said times were challenging for all, especially for workers and consumers; hence banks cannot take the usual business approach.

“There are issues of job loss, income loss, family pressure and problems, an increase of mental health issues and a whole series of stress and pressure on individuals, households and families.

“For every family, certainly one of the biggest concerns is keeping their loan obligations for their homes or car. With economic stress, there is a very real possibility that they could lose their homes, their cars or other assets.”

“This is certainly not a time for lending institutions to carry out business as usual. Banks need to play a more compassionate role in helping consumers facing genuine problems to go through this difficult period.”

Marimuthu however said that the Central Bank had a critical role in ensuring that consumers were protected during such times and their financial well-being safeguarded.

The Malaysian Trades Union Congress had echoed this earlier, while seeking an extension to the moratorium.

Its secretary-general J.Solomon had stressed that a failure to compel banks to extend the moratorium would result in a record number of forfeitures.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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