By Naa Dzagbley Ago
The Bank of Ghana has stressed the need for customers of financial institutions to exercise due diligence before signing on to investment portfolios. According to the Central Bank, this is crucial as most people are lured into investments without knowledge of critical components of the financial instrument.
Speaking at a Financial Literacy forum organised by the Bank of Ghana for Officers of the Ghana Immigration Service in Accra, Head of Conduct Supervision Unit of the Bank, Augustine Donkor, cautioned the public against certain financial products which promise huge returns on investments, saying ”such offers are usually fraudulent”.
He urged the Officers and members of the public to engage the services or advice of Financial Experts before signing on to any product or offer – and also, to ”report any suspicious financial product or company to the regulator for the necessary action to be taken”.
Mr. Donkor however gave the assurance that the Bank of Ghana has increased its vigilance on the market, hence, ”the regular warnings and notices to the public about companies and products it considers suspicious”.
For his part, Head of Market Conduct Office-Financial Stability Department, Desmond Agbogah, said the training has become necessary due to the ”rise in complaints lodged against Licensed Institutions in respect of some products, services and practices”.
He said most of these complaints have bordered on issues such as ”the non-disclosure of key information, wrongful application of interest on loans, imposition of unexplained charges, payment of remittances to wrong beneficiaries and other forms of financial fraud”.
A critical observation made from these complaints is the knowledge-gap in financial and banking-related issues on the part of some consumers of financial products and services. In some instances, it was observed that many customers of banks/specialized deposit-taking institutions lacked adequate appreciation of their rights and responsibilities as consumers of financial services.
He said it is in light of these that the Bank of Ghana continuously engages segments of the public to provide relevant information aimed at improving financial awareness.
The workshop which focused on, Public Sensitisation Programme on Banking Services, Consumer Rights and Responsibilities’, was to help Officers of the Ghana Immigration Service in Accra to understand the financial system and how to detect fraudulent schemes.
It was also to educate the Officers about various financial products and services and alert them to their rights and responsibilities when transacting business on the market; and to enhance trust and confidence in the sector to encourage financial inclusion.
They were taken through topics such as Loan Acquisitions and what to insist on, questions to ask before accepting a loan offer from a financial institution; identifying Ponzi schemes; and various complaint reporting platforms.
The Greater Accra Regional Commander of the Ghana Immigration Service, DCOI, Maud Anima Quainoo, expressed appreciation to the Bank of Ghana for the sensitization as it had served as an ”eye-opener for the Officers on what they must look out for when transacting business in the financial space”.
She said the session will not only benefit them but their colleagues as well.