CCPC Guides Financial Services consumers on payment of loans
2020-06-29The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) wishes to advise consumers of their obiligations to ensure that loan payments are remitted to their respective financial institutions in line with their individual loan agreements.
The Commission has been receiving numerous complaints from members of the public arising from financial institutions penalizing account holders who default on loan payments despite the loans being deducted on their pay slips by employers.
It is important to note that loan agreements are between the individual consumer and the respective financial institution. Therefore, the responsibility sorely lies on the consumers to ensure that loan repayments are remitted to the financial institutions as per agreed terms and conditions.
It is in this regard, that the Commission is calling upon consumers to know their obligations and responsibilities by reading and understanding the information that is provided when engaging into a loan agreement.
Further, the Commission wishes to reiterate its commitment to ensuring that all consumers are protected in all sectors of the economy. However, it is also imperative that consumers adhere to the terms of all contracts they engage in.
Finally, the Commission is advising affected consumers to engage their respective employers in order to resolve the matter amicably.
Beware of the Covid-19 Fund Scam
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) would like to warn the general public and small businesses to be cautious of scams requesting them to submit their banking information for having qualified for government’s 50% Covid-19 intervention fund.
This follows complaints received by the Commission from the general public that some individuals are sending text messages requesting people to verify their bank account details as a prerequisite to having money credited in their account when in fact not.
The Commission has noted that fraudsters have taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to extort money from unsuspecting individuals by using various electronic platforms with intent to divert money to their personal accounts. The public may wish to know that the Government will never request for personal banking details using an SMS or WhatsApp channel.
Further, the Commission urges the public not to offer or disclose their banking information like name, date of birth, phone number and card serial numbers to over SMS, WhatsApp or the unsecure Internet pages as doing so would put them at great risk of losing their hard earned money to fraudsters.
In view of the foregoing, the Commission is working with the Zambia Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ZICTA) and Zambia Police to ensure that perpetrators of such fraudulent conduct are identified and punished. Therefore, all such cases should be reported to a nearest police station or to the Commission on the toll-free line 5678 or the ZICTA toll free line 7070.
Members of the public may wish to know that this fraudulent conduct is prohibited under Section 308 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia and offenders are liable to imprisonment for 3 years.
Seeking Redress after Cancellation of Events Due to Covid-19
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) helps consumers exercise their right to redress as provided for under Section 49 (7) (a) of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) No.24 of 2010.
In this light, the Commission takes cognizance of the fact that there are numerous events that have resulted in cancellation during the period of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Thus, the Commission wishes to remind the business community that consumers have the right to refund in circumstances when the cancellation is not due to no fault of their own.
The Commission is also alive to the fact that the pandemic and the measures put in place by the Government of the Republic of Zambia to address it, are not in the control of the Enterprises. Should an event be covered by terms and conditions that deal with instances of Force Majeure, those terms and conditions prevail.
The Commission would like to state that during the Covid-19 period, all business enterprises have an obligation to refund consumers when the service paid for has not been given.
However, we also advise consumers to give enterprises reasonable indulgent time within which to settle their refunds as these times are unprecedented and the effect is felt by all.
Enterprises are encouraged to be innovative in providing consumers alternatives to the services paid for, e.g. vouchers (with sufficient time within which a consumer can make a claim), postponement to mutually acceptable dates, etc. However, the consumer has the discretion to opt for a refund should the alternative not suffice.
In dealing with the question of whether a full refund should be available, several factors are to be considered, including when the event was scheduled to take place. These factors would determine the amount of costs incurred by the enterprise.
It must be emphasized that even in such situations, equity demands that the weaker party in any agreement should not be left out without adequate redress. Prudence should therefore be employed, accordingly.
Beware of False Online and Mobile Banking Agents
2020-04-15The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) would like to warn the general public to be cautious of suspected false online banking agents masquerading as employees for various banking institutions in the country to steal from unsuspecting consumers in the wake of COVID-19.
This comes after the Commission received complaints from the general public who allege to have been victimized by unscrupulous individuals claiming to be bank agents soliciting for personal banking details from unsuspecting consumers in order to hack into their system and steal money.
CCPC Director Consumer Protection Brian Lingela has issued the warning observing that with the use of online and mobile banking services in view of the COVID 19 outbreak that has necessitated the use of online and mobile banking services, consumers of such services were now at risk of being attacked by fraudsters posing as online commercial bank agents to extort money.
“We have noticed that since most consumers now use online and mobile banking services as an alternative to physical banking following COVID 19, fraudsters are moving swiftly to try and extort money by phoning unsuspecting consumers asking them to change their personal details like the Personal Identification Number (PIN) in order to for instance migrate them to a bank’s new system when in fact not.”
He has urged Consumers to take precautionary measures by verifying the authenticity of such suspected online and mobile banking agents with respective
commercial banks and ensure that they do not disclose their personal banking information such as names, account, PIN numbers as well as National Registration Card (N.R.C) details to suspicious individuals to avoid being swindled.
The Commission will work with the Zambia Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ZICTA) and Zambia Police to ensure that perpetrators of such fraudulent conduct are identified and punished. Such fraudulent conduct is prohibited under Section 308 of the Penal Code Chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia and offenders are liable to imprisonment for 3 years