President Dr Arif Alvi has called upon all the banks of the country to regularly warn their customers and clients about banking scams, including banking frauds involving online funds transfers, and improve their regular communication with clients.
He said that simple people were being frequently entrapped by fraudsters and swindled out of their hard-earned money through fake calls and sometimes even inside the banking premises.
The president gave these remarks while writing his decision on a representation preferred by the Habib Bank Ltd (HBL) against a decision of the Wafaqi Mohtasib, President Secretariat Press Wing said in a press release on Sunday.
He rejected HBL’s representation and further directed it to pay Rs 249,525 to a poor cook from Rahim Yar Khan, who had been defrauded out of his money by fraudsters who had obtained his personal banking credentials by posing as bank officials on the telephone and got the money transferred out of his account through online means.
Ali Muhammad (the complainant) was swindled out of his money by fraudsters and he approached the bank for getting a refund of his lost amount.
After getting no results, he approached the Wafaqi Mohtasib for retrieval of his defrauded money.
The mohtasib, after investigating and hearing the case, directed HBL to refund the lost amount, but instead of implementing the decision, HBL preferred a representation with the president, which was rejected.
The president highlighted that as per the State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) directives, the bank was bound to obtain the customer’s consent before activating the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) facility and the bank had failed to submit any document/evidence to the effect that it had complied with the provisions of law, rules and regulations.
The bank could not prove that it had informed the customer about the EFT facility in writing and explained to him its pros and cons in a clearly understandable manner, he added.
The president further highlighted that the loss of money had occurred due to the reason that the Bank’s EFT facility was made operational unilaterally without the consent and knowledge of the account holder.
“Had this channel not been opened by the bank, the account holder could have avoided this financial loss”, he noted.
The president held that gross violations of rules/regulations of SBP had rendered the bank non-compliant, and malpractice and maladministration had been established.
He concluded that the bank had failed to discharge the burden and statutory liability cast upon it under the law, and no justification was presented to interfere with the original order of the Mohtasib, therefore, the representation was rejected.