Loan Recovery: It’s a Bitter Experience

For some of us, who have seen the recently released movie EMI, newspaper reports about recovery agents may seem to be some sort of a controversy set to malign the profession and the banks involved. Sattar, in the movie might as well be confused with some angelic figure; falls in love with a debtor, Prerna… bye bye Prerna’s debt…

In real life, recovery gents, the process, and the very fact that you are a defaulter can be a serious pain in the posterior.

How do banks recover loans?

Banks have appointed special recovery agencies for loan recovery. These agencies could be either on contract or commission.
Some banks may start the process of loan recovery after a single defaults, other may wait for at least two such instances. The process begins with calls to the borrower. And, what follows is the field recovery process, which involves face-to-face interaction.

Are there any rules for recovery agents?

We have read countless newspaper reports about how the recovery agents come to a defaulter’s house or office at all god-forsaken hours. A bank’s representative is to contact the borrower between 7 am and 7 pm, unless one needs to visit a borrower at odd hours and occasions such as continuous irregularity in the accounts.

Agents also should avoid making calls or show up to meet the person concerned on inappropriate occasions such as mourning in the family or such other occasions for making calls/visits to collect dues.

The agents are required to carry proper identification and carry the concerned bank’s or agency’s authority letter. The agent should display the letter as and when required.

Before the recovery agent is sent across, the bank needs to have given sufficient notice (as prescribed by law) to the borrower before the filed recovery process is initiated. These are just a few of the guidelines.

Notorious Fame

What is it that the agents are famous for?

Most agents are known to threaten people and verbally abuse and threaten the defaulters, despite bank’s directions. Some may threaten or actually use third-degree treatment on the borrowers.

Lucky, a recovery agent from Delhi told CNN-IBN in an interview that some recovery agents not only used lathis for recovery, but also their Mausers. These agents may stop a defaulter’s car on gunpoint and beat him up.

These recovery agents are not on any bank’s rolls but stand to get a hefty cut of booty they help recover.

Another recovery agent decided to take law in his hands and turned robber to recover the loan. In September 2008, in Pune, recovery agent Nitin Narayan Chavan robbed Gita Buremukla (25) of jewelry worth Rs 35,000.

This HSBC Bank recovery agent met Buremukla and informed her that there was a loan outstanding. She informed him that the person who had taken the loan no longer lived on the address, a Mr. K. Rambabu.

That didn’t satisfy the agent. The agent came back the next day to Buremukla’s house and entered it on the pretext of drinking some water. Note, recovery guidelines say that the recovery agent can’t gain forceful entry into a defaulter’s house.

Chavan locked the main door and threatened Gita with a knife and forcibly took her mangalsutra worth Rs 35,000.