By Harsh Roongta, DNA-Daily News & Analysis
Make it a practice to review your credit history at least once a year to avoid last-minute surprises
For five years, Nitin Vohra saved up to buy an apartment.His joy knew no bounds when he found his dream home — it was from a reputed builder and was close to his workplace.
But Nitin was in for a big shock when he approached a housing finance company for a home loan. The company declined his application because according to his credit information report, he had an outstanding of Rs 23,000 with a credit card company, overdue for 2 years. This was a shocker for Nitin, who had been paying his credit card dues on time since took the card about 10 years ago.
Clearly, there was some mistake in his credit report.
Nitin was financially literate and knew exactly what to do. So he applied for a copy of his credit report from the Credit Information Bureau of India Ltd (Cibil) by filling the form on www.cibil.com/accesscredit.htm.
When Nitin received his report, he realised where the problem lay. It was in a credit card that he had applied for about three years ago. The salesman had promised him it would be lifetime-free card, but the first statement itself had an annual fee entered. He had contacted the bank’s call centre and was told the fee could not be waived.
So he had informed the bank he was not interested in the credit card, cut it into two pieces and hand-delivered the cancellation letter along with the credit card pieces to the bank.
He assumed the matter was over and had promptly forgotten all about the credit card, especially as he had also not received any further statement from the bank.
The Cibil report showed the original fee of around Rs 1,000 had grown to Rs 23,000. A long-forgotten credit card had come between Nitin and his dream home.
I am sure this scenario soundsfamiliar. Other things that have messed up credit reports includeunwanted insurance premium,unwanted subscription for magazines or some other schemes or offers that the credit card company has a tie-up for.
Maybe you were assured on complaint that “the charges have been reversed” or you thought that by simply ignoring the problem, it would go away on its own. But it doesn’t.
So what do you do in a situation like this?
Firstly, like Nitin, get a copy of your credit report. That will tell you where the problem lies. Then, you will need to report the error to Cibil. Provide full personal details and control number of the credit report (available on the right top-hand corner of the report) and the entry you want rectified. State your reasons for rectification and the action you require (in most cases, deletion/ correction of an entry).
“Once Cibil receives your request for rectification, we will approach the concerned lender for confirmation of the data submitted,” says Arun Thukral, MD of Cibil.
“Updated data gets submitted by credit grantors regularly. Once the data is rectified by the lender, it will be sent to Cibil for updation.”
Though Cibil is supposed to coordinate with the concerned bank, it is in your own interest to also file a complaint with the bank’s nodal officer.
The Credit Information Companies Regulation Act, 2005, provides for a period of 30 days for such corrections to take place.
Unfortunately, the Act does not provide for any procedure to be followed if this deadline of 30 days lapses. At the end of 30 days, your best bet would be to file a grievance with the banking ombudsman against the lender or credit card issuer. Currently, no grievance authority is provided for against inaction from the credit information company. Of course, you continue to have access to the consumer and civil courts if you so desire.
So what happened to Nitin? Taking my advice, he wrote out a strong complaint to the bank, making it clear he was suffering a huge loss due to the bank’s error and that he would file for compensation with the banking ombudsman if there was a delay in the response.
This, however, did not work till he actually filed a complaint with the ombudsman with a copy marked to the bank’s nodal officer.
After that, there was a flurry of activity from the bank’s side and it agreed to update Cibil’s record and provide him with a letter mentioning that it was an error. There was a quid pro quo — Nitin had to agree in writing to drop the demand for compensation.
He did, and with his credit history clear, managed to get his loan approved. So Nitin (presumably) is living happily in his dream home.
To avoid such issues you should make it a practice to request for your credit report at least once a year and check that it is error-free. That will ensure you get no shocks like Nitin.
The writer is CEO, Apna Paisa, a search comparison engine for loans, insurance and investments. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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