Are You Over 70? Ask Your Bank To Come Home

Are you aware of the doorstep facilities banks are mandated to provide for elderly or differently abled people? According to the Reserve Bank of India’s November-2017 circular, senior citizens or those above 70 years of age and differently abled persons must be provided basic banking services like pick up or delivery of cash, demand draft work, submission of know your customer (KYC) documents, etc, at their residence.

The initiative aims to facilitate those who can’t stand in long ATM queues or are not in a position to perform bank-related tasks themselves. Cases related to elderly becoming victims of theft, snatching, robbery, etc, while they do bank-related work, are on the rise.

RBI Governor Urjit Patel said in a statement on Developmental and Regulatory Policies in October 2017 that banks are discouraging or turning away senior citizens and differently abled persons from availing banking facilities in branches. “Notwithstanding the need to push digital transactions and use of ATMs, it is imperative to be sensitive to the requirements of senior citizens and differently abled persons,” he said. Since December 31, 2017, the central bank has made it mandatory for banks to put in place appropriate mechanism to provide basic banking services to the senior citizens or differently abled so they don’t feel marginalised or discriminated against.

Doorstep banking

In view of the difficulties faced by the senior citizens or differently abled or infirm persons (having medically certified chronic illness or disability), including those who are visually impaired, banks need to provide basic banking facilities such as pick up of cash and instruments against receipt, delivery of cash against withdrawal from account, delivery of demand drafts, submission of KYC documents and life certificate at the premises/ residence of such customers.

Dedicated Counters

To save such customers from any kind of inconvenience or harassment, banks should have an identifiable dedicated counter where their queries are addressed and banking tasks are performed swiftly.

Ease of submitting life certificate

Pensioners can submit physical ‘life certificate’ form at any pension paying bank branch to get a ‘digital life certificate’ under the Jeevan Praman Scheme. Banks have to ensure when a life certificate is submitted at the pension paying bank branch, including a non-home branch, it is updated/uploaded promptly to avoid any delay in the credit of pension.

Cheque book facility

Banks have to provide a cheque book with minimum 25 leaves for savings account every year free of charge. Banks shall not insist on physical presence of any customer, including senior citizens and differently abled persons, for issuing cheque books.

Auto-conversion of account status

Presently, in some banks, even fully KYC-compliant accounts are not automatically converted into ‘senior citizen accounts’ on the basis of date of birth maintained in their records. However, banks have been recommended to automatically convert such accounts to ‘senior citizen account’ based on the date of birth in the bank’s records. This can save the elderly from standing in queues.

Ease of filing Form 15G/H

Senior citizens are often seen standing in queues to collect Form 15G/H (to save TDS on interest income) during the start of a financial year as these certificates provide tax benefits. Banks have been directed to provide senior citizens and differently abled persons Form 15G/H once in a year (preferably in April) to enable them to submit it in the stipulated time.

What to do if bank fails to provide services

For complaints against a bank’s agent, an internal grievance redressal machinery should to be set up by banks, as directed by the RBI in 2017. The name and telephone number of the designated grievance redressal officer of the ‘bank’ must be made available to customers, including the bank’s website. The designated officer has the responsibility to ensure that genuine grievances of customers are addressed at the earliest. If no reply is received within 30 days or the bank rejects the complaint or the customer is not satisfied with the bank’s reply, the complaint can be escalated to the Banking Ombudsman.

Here is the link to offices of Banking Ombudsman spread across the country.

Through the above hyperlink, the customer can even file complaint online.

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