Financial institutions here; mainly banks, have been put on notice by the Ministry of Trade that they must notify their customers before they are charged any fees
Residents have been inquiring with the Prices and Consumer Affairs Division after receiving new or increased bank charges without prior notification.
According to reports, after contacting their banks, consumers often received insufficient explanations regarding the charges.
The Ministry of Trade reminded these lending institutions through a media release that Under the 1985 UN Resolution adopting Guidelines for Consumer Protection and the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (Cap 8. Article 184), the consumer has a right to information, education, and choice.
“It is critical for banks and other financial institutions to inform consumers of new or increased charges, explain these charges so consumers can develop a better understanding, and allow consumers to terminate the service if they do not agree with the fee before being charged,” the statement said
The Trade Ministry is recommending that banks and other pending institutions provide written notification of any pending new charges or increases in charges directly to a consumer at least 30 days before the charge is implemented.
The authorities believe that this would give the consumer time to seek information and make an informed decision on important financial matters.
“As we celebrate 50 years of CARICOM on July 4th, we must keep at the forefront that the community is intended to integrate the economies and peoples within the region to promote trade and development. For this to be achieved, banks and other financial institutions must have functional cooperation with consumers and businesses,” the Ministry of Trade wrote
Adding, “For consumers, financial decisions are not just another transaction. Many times, these are life-changing choices filled with uncertainty. If financial institutions are treating consumer interactions like purchases, then it’s time to shift your attention from completing transactions to having real connections.
The Ministry of Trade said it anticipates that hopes the banks and other financial institutions will “see this as an opportunity to engage consumers and make adequate information available to them so they can acquire the knowledge and skill to be informed consumers, conscious of their rights and responsibilities”