Lending services was the most complained-about financial business in the first half of this year, with issues related to debt restructuring a sign of lingering financial indiscipline among Thai consumers.
Debt restructuring involves consumers whocannot pay their debts when due and stems mostly from personal, credit card and business loans. Office workers saddled with personal and credit card debt submit the most complaints to the FCC, saysMs Chanatip. APICHART JINAKUL
The Financial Consumer Protection Center (FCC), a unit of the central bank, received 559 lending service complaints _ almost half the combined 1,136 disputes _ with 138 involving debt restructuring.
For all of last year, the centre received 468 cases of debt restructuring complaints out of 3,785 total cases.
FCC director Chanatip Jariyawiroj said debt restructuring involves consumers who cannot pay their debts when due and stems mostly from personal, credit card and business loans.
The central bank recently warned that household debt surged to 8.97 trillion baht or 77.5% of gross domestic product in the first quarter, up from 63% in 2010.
Swelling household debt spurred partly by stimulus schemes such as the first-time car buyer tax rebate boosted economic growth amid weak global demand.
The domestic consumption engine is running out of steam, however, as high debt levels prohibit Thais from further borrowing and leave little room for more monetary easing.
Mrs Chanatip said office workers saddled with personal and credit card debt submitted the most complaints.
"The debt restructuring complaints will likely continue at this rate for a few more years, as there are consumers who lack financial discipline," she said.
"It's our duty to change the perspective of the new generation."
Meanwhile, complaints of cross-selling financial products are rising including cases in which customers are compelled to use debit cards instead of ATM cards.
There were 64 reported complaints of cross-selling deposit products and services and 30 cases of cross-selling lending in the first half.
Last year, there were 79 and 71 reported complaints of deposit cross-selling and lending cross-selling, respectively.
The FCC serves as a one-stop service centre for financial questions and tries to deepen awareness of consumer rights and responsibilities, enable informed decision-making and stamp out fraud.
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Writer: Pathom Sangwongwanich & Oranan Paweewun