DUBAI // Credit card holders should keep track of their accounts and know exactly when payments are due, experts warn.
The call comes after a Jordanian expatriate was detained at the UAE-Oman border on what he thought would be a relaxing holiday.
Hussein Adnan, who has been living in Dubai for 14 years, was temporarily held in March after Emirates NBD filed a case against him in February for a small outstanding amount that increased to more than Dh100,000 with charges over a six-year period.
“An immigration officer came on board the bus to check the 25 passengers’ passports and as he was exiting the bus he called my name and asked me to follow him,” said Mr Adnan.
“I was informed that I was under arrest as there was a case filed by Emirates NBD against me for a cheque of more than Dh120,000.
“I didn’t know what the officer was talking about because I haven’t had a bank account with Emirates NBD since 2009, or so I thought.”
Mr Adnan left the UAE to go back to his home country in 2009 and was under the impression that he closed all his bank accounts and paid off his loans before he changed his mind and decided to return to Dubai three months later.
“I thought it was all settled before I left,” he said. “I don’t know how my credit card account was not closed. I never received a letter stating that it was.
“When I found out there was a case against me, I went to the bank and they showed me a statement that I had Dh700 left on a credit card that had a limit of Dh7,200.”
The bank informed Mr Adnan that the Dh700 had grown to Dh120,000 with charges over the years and Emirates NBD wrote the due amount on a blank security cheque he submitted when he opened his credit card account.
The bank filed a complaint at the Naif Police Station and submitted the cheque.
After negotiations with the bank, Mr Adnan was asked to pay Dh15,000 and the case against him was closed.
Mazen Ajjour, the chief executive of Al Bahar & Associates Advocates and Legal Consultants, said that from 2013 when rules were changed banks were no longer permitted to take blank cheques from its customers.
“The cheque must be filled out by the borrower. For example, if you take out a loan for Dh25,000, you must give the bank a cheque for Dh25,000.
“However, that does not prohibit the bank from its right to demand more.
“All dealings before 2013 are not subjected to this law. There’s nothing illegal if the bank had received a blank cheque before then.”
Mr Ajjour said that when it comes to credit cards, there can be many charges, such as cash advance fees, over limit fees, late payment fees, card replacement fees, credit shield fees and annual fees, in addition to agreed interest charges.
Jessica Cook, a Dubai financial adviser, said it is prudent for people to keep track of each of their accounts in the UAE.
“Regular monitoring will ensure that you don’t create a negative balance in the first place and keep up-to-date with account charges if there are any,” she said.
“Anyone planning on leaving the UAE has to clear outstanding debt before they do. Take the necessary steps to close your accounts then insist on written confirmation from the bank.
“Even if you think old accounts are dormant, leave no stone unturned.”
Updated: May 22, 2015 04:00 AM