Refer inept users of credit cards to agency, banks urged

PENANG: Credit card users who show early signs of poor financial management should be referred to the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency for help.

Bank Negara deputy governor Datuk Mohd Razif Abdul Kadir, who said this, added that banks should look out for such spending trends to guard against bad debts.

He said non-performing loans now totalled RM18.6bil, with credit card defaulters accounting for RM700mil.

“We advise banks to refer potential defaulters to the agency earlier,” he said after opening the agency office at Bank Negara here yesterday.

Useful service: (From left) Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency chief executive officer Mohamed Akwal Sultan, Mohd Razif, Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohamed Idris and Malaysia Banks Associations Penang branch chairman Ahmad Daniyal Ahmed Tajul Ariffin placing their hands on a globe to signify the opening of the agency in Penang on Friday.

Bank Negara set up the agency to provide free financial management, credit counselling and debt management services.

So far some 11,000 people, of which more than half are credit card users, have sought the help of the agency's offices in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and here.

Mohd Razif said 60% of the 8.8 million credit card users settled their bills on time, while 40% tend to pay only the minimum 5% of their monthly dues.

“The debt management programme has helped ease repayment burdens, as we help formulate affordable repayment plans to help them get back on their feet,” he said.

Mohd Razif said that ideally the Education Ministry should introduce a special syllabus on practical financial management in schools.

On another matter, Mohd Razif advised the public not to deposit their money in foreign financial institutions that are not licensed in Malaysia.

“People should be extra cautious of foreign financial institutions, especially those operating online.

“Obviously, something is not right when deposit schemes offer returns 20% higher than normal.”

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