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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Both banks and customers are responsible for the easy credit curse

Borrowing is easy and temptations are many, but where do we draw the line and who will draw it?

UAE spenders recently scored high on a global materialism index. Lenders and temptation are often hard to resist. Andrew Parsons  /  The National
UAE spenders recently scored high on a global materialism index. Lenders and temptation are often hard to resist. Andrew Parsons / The National

The astonishing story of a woman who built up debts of Dh700,000 before taking the banks who lent her the money to court, says a lot about consumer habits, our courts system and banking practices in the UAE.

The woman represented herself in all three cases she brought against financial institutions and while she settled with one bank, the court ruled in her favour in two other cases. Not only was her debt wiped out, but the court ordered the financial institutions to pay her a lump sum in compensation.

This newspaper has consistently called on banks to end their practices of cold calling and offering large loans and easy credit to customers without making the appropriate checks. Our hope is that the recent introduction of the Al Etihad Credit Bureau will help curb and curtail irresponsible lending once and for all – and clearly the banks have a lot to answer for in this case – but we also worry that this story might send out some wrong signals.

Read more: How an Abu Dhabi resident took three UAE banks to court and cleared Dh700,000 debt

> How to file a case against your bank over escalating credit card debt

> Al Etihad Credit Bureau says it will launch benchmark banking report soon

> Chipping away at the personal debt problem

As The National reported earlier this week, conspicuous consumption is not only an increasing problem, but it can also fuel a greater levels of personal indebtedness and can lead to health and lifestyle issues such as depression and divorce. Susan, the woman who took the banks to court, said that she became financially hamstrung because she “got caught up in the life here”.

While she was right to take on the banks over the exorbitant rates of interest they were charging her, a healthier banking and credit system ultimately lies not in court, but in responsible banking practices and in greater financial literacy among customers. It is incumbent on us all, banks included, to understand the value of money.

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