Friday, 29 December 2017

Warning: Do NOT bank in these "cheques" you get from the banks!

Because we all need Public Service Announcements to save us from banking in money that isn't ours.

There's a marketing tactic being practised by the various banks in Singapore which I'm going to call out today as being extremely unethical and misleading, but hey that's just my personal opinion and you're free to disagree.

If these banks haven't yet gotten a warning by MAS for their tactics, then my guess is that either MAS is completely unaware, or have chosen to close an eye to this. Whatever it is, I believe this is an issue that needs more awareness, and if none of local influencers who are always being paid by the banks / credit card companies to promote their products / services will do it, then I will.

(Don't be quick to blame the influencers. Many of them rely on such sponsored postings for a living, and my guess is that many are afraid to talk bad or expose questionable concerns about the brands they work with in case it affects their future chances of being sponsored. That, is exactly what happened to me after I exposed the misleading marketing messages put out by the influencers engaged for the UOB Krisflyer campaign here. But credibility will always be fundamental to SG Budget Babe, and I'll continue writing, sponsored posts or not.)

So I've been receiving some highly questionable "cheques" from Citibank and Standard Chartered because I'm a banking customer with them. It caught me by surprise the first time I saw it, as I thought they had mistakenly sent me a cheque for something which I wasn't aware of. Upon a closer look, however, I realised it was simply a marketing ploy to get me to take up a loan with them, so into the bin these letters went.

According to others online, it seems like UOB is also practising such a tactic. If you know of more banks doing this, please let me know and I'll add it to the list.

This tactic involves :

  • Sending out a "cheque" that actually looks pretty legitimate, with a sum of money printed on it which you can actually cash in
  • Accompanying letter states that it'll be credited into your bank account when cleared successfully
  • It is even signed off by a prominent figure (in this case, the Head of Retail Banking) to lend some credibility 


Reproduced with permission from owner.

I'm not sure how many folks would be savvy or alert enough to realise that this money is NOT theirs. Yes, the money does appear in your bank account if you credit it in, but at the same time, you get deducted the sum from your credit card bill. And if you go trigger happy and spend that money, thinking you just got a windfall?

Congrats, you'll have to now deal with a 2.5% processing fee of the sum you just banked in, on top of late payment charges AND interest payment if you fail to clear off the debt within the month.

Clearly I'm not the only one who's annoyed by such unethical marketing tactics. It belongs in the same category as the misleading marketing messages promoted by local Instagram influencers which I've called out previously here (UOB Krisflyer) and here (UOB Stash).



Is this unethical or completely acceptable? You decide.


If your parents are not completely English-literate, you might want to start reading their letters from the banks and credit card companies for as long as such unethical marketing practices (in my opinion) prevails.

With love,
Dawn

13 comments:

  1. Not any ordinary bank customers? If not wrong, we have Ready Credit account with the bank to receive such cheque? Right?

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    Replies
    1. I'm not sure whether I have ready credit account with one of the banks whom I got the cheque from though.

      Delete
  2. Banks have been doing this for quite some time already. Just don't bank in any cheque you're not expecting to receive. Money doesn't fall from the sky just like that.

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    1. yeah you and I know NOT to do that but my concerns are for those who aren't english literate and may fall for it. even I did a double take the first time i saw it, and I'm usually already quite careful.

      Delete
  3. Banks are friends when you have $. Banks are your nightmares when you owe them $.
    You did the right thing. Complaining to MAS is a waste of time.

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    Replies
    1. I may not be able to change marketing practices but at least I can help raise awareness to my little blog audience so they can warn their parents, and their friends, and together we help to prevent lost sheep :)

      Delete
  4. Actually I have no problems with these cheques and I don't find them misleading personally .

    When anz was around , I always welcomed it as they gave me 0% processing , 0% interest for 6 months and a few times , so it was interest free. I think the onus is on consumers to read. The fault is not the banks.

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    Replies
    1. I never said the banks are at fault leh. If this is allowed, then it is probably legal. Is it unethical? Well, "unethical" is a pretty subjective term depending on who you ask, but in my books I view this as unethical lo.

      You're right, the onus is on consumers to read. That's why I hope this post helps spread more awareness, because how many people really read the fine print? And what if they're not english literate, but see this and go OMG DID XXX BANK JUST SEND ME A WRONG CHEQUE HEHE NEVER MIND FREE MONEY JUST TAKE.

      and then get screwed after...haiyo. you should spread the word too!! :)

      Delete
  5. Uh, nothing "misleading". There's no free money anyway, so even if the elderly can't read, they (being so kiasu), will not bank in these cheques without getting someone else to interpret the letters.

    And for those who knows how to read english, really its not the fault of the banks. Not especially when the bigger size font words indicates that its a loan/ready credit.

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    Replies
    1. ideally yes, but I won't be surprised if there are indeed people who accidentally bank in thinking it is legit money because they couldn't read the fine print and didn't get someone to check for them. but what do I know, I don't have any statistics hahah so take the opinions of someone on the internet with a pinch of salt :P

      Delete
  6. My spouse and youngest son never receive any such cheques. How come?

    They don't have any credit cards!

    Sometime we received such cheques because we "ask" for them by holding all sorts of crdit cards with all sort of banks for cash back, flyer miles, etc

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  7. Quite unethical. After 2008, anyone educated in modern time who still trust their banks must be Nuts.

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  8. I hate having to deal with paper mail, and I was so annoyed with these cheques I called both Citibank and UOB. With Citibank, it's straightforward to request them to stop sending me such cheques. UOB asked for a long processing time (can't rmb how long, perhaps 2 months). Someone eventually called me to confirm if I really want to opt out of ALL promotional materials, as such requests stops all marketing materials via sms, email and post. I gladly told her to go ahead. I hardly have anymore paper mail nowadays and am really happy I made the calls.

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