The Bank of Ghana has reiterated the need for the public to do better due diligence before dealing with financial institutions, in order for them to avoid being victims of Ponzi schemes and other financial scams.
It has also charged the general public to look out for and avoid paying fees and charges by financial institutions, which have been abolished.
As part of a sensitization exercise by the Bank of Ghana to help reduce the rate at which people fall victim to various financial scams, the Central Bank has been highlighting key factors it wants the public to critically consider.
“We are highlighting some of the rights and responsibilities that we expect the general public to be aware of in their dealings with the Banks and SDIs. We have thought them (selected immigration officers in Ashanti Region) how to identify a licensed institution. It is very critical that every individual when you want to deal with a banking institution, you have to find out whether they have a license. When you go to the bank, you should see their licenses on display. If you have any doubt, you can reach out to the Bank of Ghana by visiting its website, and you will be able to see all the institutions that are licensed.”
“It is also important to sensitize them (the public) on some of the things that have been abolished by the Bank of Ghana. So, we have abolished quite a number of practices and fees that the banks were charging or were undertaking within the banking sector. For instance, we have said it is not allowed for a bank to charge what we call maintenance fees on savings account. It is also not allowed for a bank or a savings and loans or finance house to change the ownership of the collaterals. For instance, if you take your car as collateral, we are saying that, the bank should not change the name into a joint name of the bank or to the bank to the extent that the customer will pay for all that,” Godfred Cudjoe who is with the financial stability department of the Bank of Ghana, stated.
With respect to loans, the Bank of Ghana wants the public to compare available options and also do necessary checks before signing on to the various packages.
“For customers, before you take a loan, you really access your needs. You look out for the various charges that the banks are charging on the loan; the interest rate. Very importantly, we’ve mentioned that customers of borrowers should be concerned about the APR. So, we’ve said that anytime you’re going to take a loan from a bank, you need to ask for what we call Annualized Percentage Rate (APR). That is the cost of the loan. It is also important to note that, anytime you want to take a facility, please make sure that you shop around. You can visit five institutions, take their annualized percentage rates and compare or get a pre-agreement treaty in lending. I refer to it as pro-forma invoice”.
Godfred Cudjoe made this known on the sidelines of a sensitization exercise for officers of the Immigration Service in the Ashanti Region.
He said his outfit is targeting security agencies because a number of complaints have come from persons within the security services as they have fallen victims to ponzi schemes in recent times.
“We’ve been doing this for about two years now. We have targeted our security agencies. We have done this sensitization for the military and the Ghana Police Service. It is the turn of immigration. This is very important because we noticed that, from our complaint statistics, a number of complainants are coming from the security agencies. When there’s a Ponzi scheme within the country, we notice that the security agencies are the most hit. We see this more in those who go for peacekeeping, and they come back, and they have some amount of money that they find it difficult to locate where to invest this money. The advice is that, it is your hard-earned money that you want to invest, so it is advisable that you take your time and then look out for a licensed institution and invest in it”.
The accountant for the Ghana immigration service in the Ashanti Region, Chief Superintendent Joshua Ayettey admitted that indeed some of his members have been victims of various financial scams and as such, training by the Bank of Ghana will help save their members from becoming victims.
“Knowledge they say is power, and we are very privileged for the awareness and knowledge that we have gotten. We have learnt so much and so, when we go out definitely we will also like to share whatever we have learnt here, with our colleagues, and we definitely know that, whatever we have learnt will change our perceptions and how we go about things.
“With the issues of our colleagues being victims, yes sometimes we get such reports, and sometimes they also keep some of these things to themselves. It won’t come out, you only hear from their colleagues that, one or two people have fallen victim to some of these things”.