FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
THE BANKING CONSUMER PROTECTION PRINCIPLES
Q: Where can I find the terms and conditions for my bank product or service?
A: Up to date terms and conditions for products and services should be provided to new consumers or at the request of existing consumers, through the channels available from the bank and in accordance with the consumer’s preference, and detailed either by way of a general terms and conditions booklet or by individual brochures. Consumers should be encouraged to read these terms and conditions before committing to a product or service. (7.1)
Q: The bank has changed the terms and conditions on my product/service. Are they allowed to do that?
A: A bank must communicate to the affected consumers any changes in terms and conditions at least 30 business days in advance of any such changes being implemented. (7.2)
Q: I do not understand the terms and conditions for my bank product/service, there are financial terms I do not understand. Who can I talk to?
A: All terms and conditions must be written in clear and understandable language, in a manner that is not misleading and provided to the consumer in Arabic. A translated version is available in English if you prefer. You can also ask for help from the person who sold you the product or service or from their designated contact centre. (7.3)
Q: The bank are insisting to send me the terms and conditions via the internet, but I do not use the internet and do not have an email address. What can I do?
A: You have the right to ask for and receive a hard copy of the terms and conditions, if that is your preference.
Q: When I asked for a copy of the terms and conditions, the bank said they would send them later. Is this the correct procedure?
A: A copy of the terms and conditions should be provided to consumers at the appropriate time to enable the consumer make an informed decision on whether they wish to purchase the product or services.
Q: What happens if I do not comply with the terms and conditions of a product or service?
A: Banks must include specific ‘warning statements’ in all terms and conditions, application forms and advertisements, stating clearly the potential consequences for the consumer in not meeting the product or service conditions as agreed in the product or service application form. (7.4)
Q: What fees, charges or commissions can a bank deduct from me?
A: A bank will only deduct the approved fees, charges and commissions that are detailed in the SAMA schedule of fees and charges and commissions. All new fees, charges and commissions should be approved by SAMA. The fully approved SAMA schedule of fees and charges, including third party fees, charges and commissions, should be clearly on display in all bank branches and on the bank website.(8.1)
Q: When can I ask for a list of the fees, charges and commissions
A: A bank should provide consumers with a copy of the schedule of fees, charges and commissions when they provide a product or service, when signing a contract or as requested by a consumer at any time.(8.2)
Q: Can the bank increase its fees and charges without informing me?
A: No, a bank must inform the affected consumers of any changes in fees and charges, 30 business days in advance of any such changes being implemented. All new fees, charges and commissions should be approved by SAMA. The fully approved SAMA schedule of fees and charges, including third party fees, charges and commissions, should be clearly on display in all bank branches and on the bank website. (8.3)
Q: I don’t understand how the bank calculates my fees, what can I do?
A: A bank should clarify to consumers the methodology for calculating fees and commissions and the amount of profit earned by the bank for the products and services held by those consumers.(8.4)
Q: I recently closed my account with a bank and they deducted fees from the balance. I do not understand why they did that?
A: A full breakdown of any accumulated fees and charges deducted from the final closing balance should be communicated to the consumer within five business days of closing the consumer’s account or transferring to another bank. (8.5)
Q: I am arranging a personal loan with my bank but they are asking for an upfront payment of SR1000. I cannot afford to make this payment, what should I do?
A: Consumers must be advised in contracts and application forms that any fees or charges greater than SR500, which are required from the consumer in order to avail of a bank product or service, will be evenly distributed without amortisation over the projected lifetime of the product or service and will not be deducted in one full payment, unless the consumer confirms by signed agreement that they wish to do so. (8.6)
Q: I applied for a credit card but have now decided that I do not want it. Will I have to pay any fees and charges?
A: You can cancel your credit card without payment of a fee or charge to a card issuer within ten days after receipt of the card, provided that you have not used the card after receipt. (8.7)
Q: If I want to transfer funds between my accounts with my bank, is there a charge for this service?
A: A bank will not impose a transaction or payment fee or charge on any transfers or payments between a consumer’s accounts with a bank, including credit cards from that bank. (8.8)
Q: Does a bank have to explain why they are charging me with a fee or commission?
A: Yes, A bank is required to provide written justification to consumers for fees, charges and commissions deducted for the products and services held. (8.9)
Q: Will I be charged extra by my bank if I use my ATM card outside of KSA?
A: A bank should notify their consumers that any ATM card withdrawals outside of KSA could result in additional withdrawal fees as per SAMA schedule of fees and charges.(8.10)
Q: How well does a bank protect the personal information that I have given them?
A: A bank has responsibility to protect consumer data and maintain the confidentiality of the data, including when it is held by a third party. (9.1)
Q: Is it safe to conduct my personal banking business on the internet?
A: A bank will provide a safe and confidential environment in all of its delivery channels to ensure the confidentiality and privacy of consumer data. (9.2)
Q: Is it safe to email the bank?
A: A bank should have sufficient procedures, system controls and checks and employee awareness to protect consumer information and to identify and resolve any causes of information security breaches, where they may occur in the future. (9.4)
Q: How can I be sure that bank employees do not reveal details about my personal information or financials?
A: A bank should ensure that the personal information of consumers can be accessed and used by authorised employees only. This is to ensure that access to consumer’s financial and/or personal information is for authorised employees only, whether on the job or after they have ceased working with the bank.(9.5)
Q: I find bank promotional advertising and brochures confusing and it seems that the banks do not give all of the information when they advertise. Why is this allowed ?
A: Advertising issued by banks will not be deceptive or misleading and will not exaggerate the advantages of a product or service. All text and numbers will be clearly visible and understandable with a legible font size, including footnotes. (10.2)
Q: Do bank advertisements show the fees or charges for a product or service?
A: Where advertising refers to a bank product or service that will incur a fee or charge, the advertisement or promotional material must show the amount of all fees and commissions relating to the use of the service or product (10.3)
Q: I recently applied for a product that had zero fees, but discovered later that the zero fees were only for a 6 month period. What can I do?
A: A bank must ensure that an advertisement or promotional material that uses introductory low cost fees, charges or pricing clearly states the expiry date of such an offer. (10.5)
Q: I find that bank documents have names and titles that I do not understand. How can I understand these?
A: A bank must ensure that an advertisement which contains any acronyms (for example APR) states clearly what the letters actually stand for. (10.6)
Q: I recently signed for a new product that was described as ‘zero cost’, but it seems that the ‘zero cost’ is restricted to certain transactions only. Is this allowed?
A: A bank must ensure that an advertisement only describes a product or service as ‘free’ where the product or service in its entirety is available free of charge to all consumers. (10.7)
Q: I am regularly receiving SMS messages and emails from banks advertising different products and services, but I do not want to receive them. How can I stop the bank from sending these messages to me?
A: Consumers have the right to receive short messages (SMS) or promotional material for services and products provided by a bank, and the bank should obtain the prior approval of the consumer, whether in writing or electronically, according to the preferences of the consumer. (10.9)
Q: I do not want any bank to contact my family to promote lending products, including credit cards. How can I prevent this?
A: A bank should never send promotional material to consumers under the age of 18 years that promote products or services that carry an unsuitable risk for such age group. (10.10)
Q: Some banks have refused to open an account for me. Do they have this right?
A: A bank should accept and fulfil all requests to open new accounts, where the consumer has completed all of the required documents and meets the conditions required to complete the account opening process, with the exception of the cases provided for in the rules of opening and operating accounts issued by SAMA. (11.1)
Q: When I tried to open an account with a bank, they gave me an appointment for another day. But when I called on that day to open the account, they gave me another future appointment. Is this allowed?
A: A bank must not unreasonably delay the opening of a bank account for a consumer by engaging in delaying tactics. (11.2)
Q: My bank closed my account without informing me. What is the correct procedure?
A: A bank should inform consumers of decision by the bank to close a consumer’s account 60 days in advance of the account being closed and the reasons for this. In cases of fraud or embezzlement by a consumer, a bank can immediately close or block an account without communicating with the consumer. (11.3)
Q: When I asked to open an account with a bank, they advised that I must make a minimum deposit to open the account.
A: A bank should not require a consumer to have a minimum deposit to open a personal bank account. However, a bank has the right to close an account if the account balance is zero for a period of 90 days from the date that the account is opened. (11.4)
Q: Will the bank explain how I can operate my new bank account?
A: A bank must inform a prospect consumer of the consequences of opening and operating a bank account. This must include a formal process of ensuring that consumers are fully aware of the consequences of granting access to third parties to their bank accounts. (11.5)
Q: I asked my brother to call to my bank to order a new ATM card for me, but they refused. Why?
A: A bank will only provide a new ATM card on written request from the consumer or from an authorised person. A replacement card can be issued before expiry date or as requested by the consumer.(13.1)
Q: If I lose my ATM card, where should I go to report the incident?
A: A bank will provide appropriate electronic channels and free-phone to assist consumers to easily report loss, theft or misuse of their cards. (13.3)
Q: I used an ATM recently and only received some of the money I requested. But when I reported this to my bank, they told me to go to SAMA.
A: A bank should fully investigate problems, complaints and claims from consumers, regarding incorrect transactions or any difficulties encountered when using any ‘Automated Teller Machine’ (ATM) or ‘Point Of Sale’ (POS) and take corrective action in accordance with SAMA circulars related to this. (13.4)
Q: My credit card issuer recently increased my credit limit, why?
A: A bank should not issue a credit card or increase a credit card limit except upon the written request of the consumer, according to the regulations and circulars issued by SAMA relating to credit cards and debit cards. (13.5)
Q: What happens if someone steals my card and uses it, will I be liable?
A: A consumer will be responsible for any transactions made on their credit card before they reported the loss of their card to the bank. The issuing bank is responsible for any fraudulent transactions (transfer of credit card information) without the knowledge of the card holder, whether made before or after the cardholder informs the bank, except in cases which the bank proves the cardholder’s responsibility for these transactions. (13.8)
Q: I notice some shops charge me an additional fee when I use my credit card to pay for purchases. What is the purpose of this charge?
A: Merchant customers they cannot pass on or impose any additional fees or charges (merchant service charge) on credit cardholders when consumers use a credit card for payment of goods or services in their stores. (13.9)
Q: How much can I withdraw from ATMs with my ATM card?
A: A bank will advise consumers of the transaction limits that apply at POS and ATM at time of issue, reissue of cards, or when these limits change. (13.11)
Q: How can I be sure that it is safe for me to use internet banking? What happens if someone breaks into my account through the internet?
A: A bank should take appropriate measures to ensure that all online banking channels are safe and secure. A consumer will be compensated for any direct losses incurred as a result of poor security controls for these channels. (14.1)
Q: What do I do if I see suspicious or unauthorised transactions on my account?
A: A bank should provide a free phone line to help consumers to easily report suspicious or unusual transactions or unauthorised access to their data or accounts. (14.2)
Q: How will I know if someone has carried out an unauthorised transaction on my account?
A: A bank should inform consumers of all transactions on their accounts as they happen, by sending a free SMS to mobile phone. They should apply more than one evidence of identity verification for electronic services and advise consumers regarding electronic fraud. (14.3)
Q: I received a telephone call from my bank asking me for personal details in order to update my account. Is this normal practice by banks?
A: A bank will never telephone, send text messages or email a consumer for any details regarding their passwords, PINs or any other account verification methods.
Q: If I take out a loan with a bank, on what date will deductions be made for repayment instalments?
A: A bank will deduct the installment on the date agreed upon with the consumer and in line with the date of deposit of the consumer’s salary account with the bank. (15.3)
Q: I am unable to afford the monthly installments, who can I talk to?
A: Each bank branch should have a designated credit counselor to assist consumers who report that they are encountering a difficulty with repayments to their consumer finance account. (15.4)
Q: I want to change my salary to a different bank so that I can open an account there, but my existing bank is blocking this. What can I do?
A: A consumer is entitled to transfer their salary to the account of any other bank of their choice in the absence of financial commitments to an existing bank. A bank should issue a letter of ‘no liability’ to the consumer no later than seven business days from the date of receipt of transfer request, and within 30 business days in the case of a credit card, with the exception of cases involving the courts. (16.1)
Q: My bank agreed to accept a partial payment so that I can apply for a new loan. But my credit record has been affected and now I am unable to obtain approval.
A: A bank should give clear written information to consumers regarding the consequences that non-payment of their liabilities will have for their credit record in the information held by credit information companies.
In the event that a consumer partly pays their indebtedness , banks should not issue a letter of ‘final clearance’. They should avoid using any such phrases or words in their communication with the consumer unless the consumer has fully paid off their liabilities or unless the bank is agreeable to accept a partial payment in full and final settlement of all amounts due. (16.2)
Q: I am receiving calls at unusual times regarding overdue payments to my consumer finance account. The callers are very forceful with their language and they make threats to me.
A: When communicating with consumers to encourage them to settle their outstanding amounts, a bank should always adhere to SAMA circulars regarding this process, which includes the responsibilities of bank employees and employees of any outsourced company or third party who is acting on behalf of a bank. (16.3)
Q: What training do banks give to their employees?
A: A bank will ensure that employees who have direct interactions with consumers should do the following:-
a) competently, efficiently and professionally discharge their duties and provide the banking services they are entrusted to provide.
b) display good behaviors and deal professionally when providing service to existing or prospect consumers at all times.
c) have full knowledge of best banking practices so that they can help consumers. (17.1)
Q: I want to send money to an overseas beneficiary through the bank but cannot find details about how much this will cost.
A: A bank has the right to impose fees on consumers for the transfer of funds outside the Kingdom. These fees should be a fixed amount and not a percentage of the amount being transferred. Any beneficiary bank fees should be included, as well as any fees imposed by the correspondent bank. The consumer should be informed of the amount of all fees before confirming the transfer of funds. (18.1)
Q: How do I know that the funds I remit will be credited to the correct account? What is the responsibility of the bank I use to send the funds?
A: A bank will be responsible for validating the payment instructions, specifically the International Bank Account Number (IBAN), and Bank Identifier Code (BIC), before completing the transfer of the funds. (18.2)
Q: How long does it take for the funds to arrive with the beneficiary?
A: Before completing the transfer of funds, a bank should advise consumers of the expected arrival time that the funds will be with the beneficiary and the fees or charges deducted and the net amount that will be paid to the beneficiary.(18.3)
Q: What happens if I send money overseas and it does not arrive in the beneficiary’s account?
A: A bank should advise a consumer within two business days of return of funds by a correspondent bank. The funds returned should be credited to the consumer’s account as soon as received from the correspondent. Where the consumer is not an account holder, the returned funds should be available in cash or by cashier’s cheque within two business days. (18.4)
Q: If I use my ATM card to withdraw cash from an ATM in another country, what exchange rate is used?
A: A bank should explain to the consumer that making an ATM cash withdrawal for international currency outside the Kingdom is subject to the required currency exchange rate as at the date of the withdrawal transaction. (18.5)
Q: There seems to be many fees charged when I remit funds overseas, why do I have to pay so many different charges?
A: Fees should be for a fixed amount and not a percentage of the amount being transferred. Any beneficiary bank fees should be included, as well as any fees imposed by the correspondent bank. The consumer should be informed of the amount of all fees before confirming the transfer of funds. (18.1)
Q: How do I receive my copy of the ‘Banking Consumer Protection Principles’?
A: A bank should provide a hard copy of the ‘Banking Consumer Protection Principles’ to new banking consumers, or to existing consumers who takes out a new product or service. An electronic copy should be also available on their website for all consumers. (19.1)
Q: I asked for a copy of the terms and conditions for my new product, when will the bank send this to me?
A: A bank will provide a copy of the following documents within seven business days, or as otherwise formally agreed with the consumer, based on the consumer request:
· A copy of the original application for any product or service.
· A copy of the up to date terms and conditions.
· A copy of the credit contract, including security and guarantee documents
Q: My bank is bringing me to court regarding my overdue instalments. How can I talk to them to try to defer this action?
A: Banks should take humanitarian reasons into consideration when dealing with consumers who have emergency financial difficulties. (19.3)
A bank should advise its consumers who have financial difficulties and try to help them to overcome these difficulties before proceeding with legal action against them. (19.4)
Q: How do I know what hours the bank branches will be open, it seems to vary?
A: A bank will display the branch hours of business on a fixed notice at the main entrance to each branch and the branch will open and close in accordance with these advertised hours of business. (19.5)
Q: I have poor reading ability, will this prevent me from opening a bank account?
A: A bank will not discriminate against consumers in any way, in the sale or usage of any banking product or service. (19.6)
Q: My friend received a refund from his bank for fees that were charged to him in error. I deal with the same bank, when will I be refunded?
A: Where a bank discovers an error, or is informed of an error by a consumer making a
complaint or a claim, then the bank should refund all other consumers who are proven to be affected by a similar error. This should be completed within 60 business days of the original error being identified. The bank should issue a communication to all affected consumers, advising them of the error and the steps being taken for corrective action, including the amount of the refund to the consumers’ accounts. (20.2)
Q: How long does it take for the bank to credit my account with the agreed refund, awarded to me after I made a complaint and the complaint was upheld?
A: On conclusion of a complaint or error investigation, or on receipt of an instruction from a higher authority, any refunds or monetary compensation due to a consumer should be credited to the consumer’s money transmission account within five business days. In certain exceptional circumstances when a longer period of time may be required, the consumer should be advised of the expected time for crediting of the amount due. (20.3)
Q: Where can I find out how to make a complaint and what happens after I make it?
A: A bank should clearly display their complaints procedures in all of their branches and on their websites and provide a hard copy to a consumer if requested. (21.2)
Q: If I am dissatisfied with how the bank dealt with my complaint, how do I escalate it to SAMA?
A: A bank should provide the information required by a consumer who wishes to escalate their complaint within a bank or to a third party as a result of being dissatisfied with the result of their complaint and direct them to the appropriate third party relevant for their complaint. (21.4)