Did you know that if you have two or more accounts with the same bank, or one of its affiliates, and you fall behind with your payments on one of them, the bank can whip money out of another account in order to offset that debt?
It’s called set-off, and many people aren’t aware of the practice until it happens to them.
The theme of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day over the weekend was “Fix our phone rights” – a cause that resonates with many South African consumers, if my inbox is anything to go by.
And the campaign – by Consumers International (see box) – wasn’t a one-day wonder, but the launch of a consumer agenda for fair cellphone services worldwide, including access to a reliable service, the security of our data, and fair contracts and billing – the issues most affecting consumers.
No one has the right to arbitrarily demand that you pay for something without substantiating how they arrived at that amount.
Debt collectors, for example, notoriously contact alleged debtors and demand that they pay relatively large sums to settle an often old, prescribed debt, and then put the onus on them to prove they don’t owe the money, when in fact it’s the other way around – the collector should be asked to produce documentation showing how the amount being claimed was arrived at.