Thursday, December 6, 2012

Employee Blows Whistle On Aussie Bankster's Alleged Effort To Squeeze Slow-Paying Borrowers With Foreclosure Threats

From the land Down UnderThe Australian reports:

  • ANZ has denied illegally harassing customers who are late on their mortgage payments after an internal whistleblower referred its collection practices to the corporate watchdog for investigation.

    The whistleblower, who works in the bank's collections department, has accused ANZ of engaging in unconscionable conduct and misrepresentation in pursuing late mortgage payments, in contravention of corporate regulations and its own guidelines.

    The staffer alleges ANZ is telling customers who are behind in their payments by as little as 20 days that it has engaged lawyers to begin foreclosure proceedings, when the bank's own policy is to wait at least 60 days.

    "It's ridiculous telling a customer that you're going to lose your house when you're only behind by a month or less -- you have to be at least two or three months behind for the solicitor to accept the account," the whistleblower said during an interview on Seven News.

    The Australian Securities & Investments Commission requires lenders to give borrowers 30 days to make payments after being served with a default notice, and to inform them about their rights and options to apply for relief on the grounds of financial hardship.

    The whistleblower said ANZ's own guidelines allowed customers in arrears to be given extra time to make repayments, but staff were being instructed to "be firm".

    "There have been instances where a staff member has given a customer what they're entitled to, then management has turned around and said 'why are you giving them three months instead of one month'," he said.

    Choice spokesman Matt Levey said ANZ's conduct "would seem to verge on bullying".

    ANZ spokesman Stephen Ries said the bank rejected any "suggestion of systemic issues with inappropriate conduct in its collections area". "We take our compliance obligations very seriously and continually monitor and improve existing policies and processes."
Source: ANZ denies harassing late mortgage payers (requires subscription; if no subscription, try here, then click the appropriate link for the story).

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