KOCHI: A racket is flourishing in the state with the blessings of some advocates setting eyes on making a ‘fast buck’ from the ingenuous Gulf returnees, who were forced to exit their countries of employment leaving behind unpaid debt with their banks on account of personal loans or credit cards.
As is well-known, thousands of unfortunate employees (right from high salaried to labour class) had to flee the Gulf at the height of recession in the late 2000s without informing their companies or other authorities for fear of imprisonment as they knew that they wouldn’t be able to pay off their debt or get a new job in a market that was marked by large scale exodus.
With an eye on cashing in on the vulnerability of these hapless ‘ex-Gulfees’, there are recovery teams out on the prowl with different tactics right from ‘shaming’ to threats of legal actions.
The modus operandi of the team is that initially one or two guys visit the houses of these loan defaulters and advise them to pay off the loans in order to save themselves from serious complications of litigations. In the build-up to this exercise, they would try to talk to people in their neighbourhood, which naturally has potential listeners to these kinds of stories.
Once the shaming tactics fail to yield the desired result, they would enter the legal action phase with initially threatening to drag them to courts of law and finally sending the real legal notice signed by an advocate. Though there are accepted formats for these letters, according to a High Court advocate, these letters normally would not have details of the loans or break-up of the current liability.
These teams would even offer the loan defaulters opportunity to settle the loans if they were willing to pay up 50 per cent or more depending on the size of the outstanding. Many fall prey to them at this stage itself happily paying off about 50 per cent or more of the outstanding and escape ‘serious’ further legal action.
According to informed sources, these teams would have either struck deal with the bank’s credit department to share the ‘booty’ between the recovery team and the bank or in some other cases manage to get hold of the details of these loan defaulters from their banks surreptitiously with the help of some insiders there and use that prized info to bring these defaulters on to their knees for ‘decent settlement’.
And the last weapon is the legal notice signed by an advocate giving the defaulter time up to 15 days from the receipt of the letter to pay up or face the consequences. On receipt of such a letter, most victims would lose their withholding power and start scampering for cover.
Businessbenchmark.news tried to figure out what exactly was happening in these cases, with the help of a High Court advocate. He said that it was not easy for these overseas banks to initiate action against the defaulters in their absence. “The banks will be required to get approval from the government here and the processes are too lengthy to be applied on a personal loan or a credit card outstanding recovery.
In most cases, the fee for the advocates and the recovery team members is the share from the payout by the defaulter out of fear. Worse, many recovery cases are not even reported to the original bank where the loan had originated from.