79-year-Old Spends 2 Days in Anxiety When SBI Asks for KYC over Phone against Its Own Advisory
Nita Mukherjee 10 June 2022
While the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and State Bank of India (SBI) are asking customers to refrain from sharing know-your-customer (KYC) related information over phone, via email or SMS, the Bank, however, is confusing customers, that too after banking hours and over a weekend. A very senior citizen was made to spend two days on a weekend with anxiety, tension and mental agony just because an official from SBI called from a mobile number and asked him to share KYC over an email. 
Here is what happened over the weekend…
 
The day and date: Saturday, 4th June; time: 12noon; customer: 79-year-old; the event: an urgent phone call from an unknown mobile number of someone who identifies herself as XXX from SBI requesting the customer to urgently send scanned images of his Aadhaar and PAN card to confirm the date of birth as some audit work was going on at the Bank. 
 
The officer from SBI mentions that it was very urgent and the documents were needed ASAP.
 
The customer, being a very senior citizen and not tech-savvy enough to scan the documents on his own, goes to the neighbour and gets it done and sends them to the email ID given by the SBI officer. When he tries to call back the number to confirm receipt of the scanned copies, there is no response.
 
If someone narrated this to you, wouldn’t your immediate response be – this is spam/phishing fraud! This was my response too—typical modus operandi of a fraudulent call. 
 
 
The customer, who is my sister’s husband, happened to mention this to me in the evening at about 7pm when we met for some other work. I got alarmed and told him that the events have all the underpinnings of a KYC fraud. 
 
Immediately, we rushed around to find out the steps that need to be taken. As always, the toll-free numbers given on SBI’s as well as RBI’s website did not work. Either they do not connect or if they do, the intelligent (!) voice response system (IVRS) gives you a recorded message that you are on hold – indefinitely! 
 
 
After an anxious two hours of trying unsuccessfully to register a complaint and to block the account and the debit-cum-ATM card, he gave up. By this time, it was past 11pm. They spent a sleepless night.
 
In the meantime, I approached Yogesh Sapkale, our deputy editor. As always, he came to our rescue. One of the numbers he gave us, finally responded and my brother-in-law was able to block the ATM card next morning only at about 6am. 
 
 
But he could not block his account or my sister’s account in which he is also a joint-holder and we were afraid that a fraudster or hacker could misuse the documents to hack into that account also.
 
So our entire Sunday went into finding out the procedures to secure the account. Since Reserve Bank of India gives 72 hours within which such cases have to be reported, we drafted the letter to SBI so that he could personally hand it over to the manager first thing on Monday morning and do whatever was necessary to secure the account.
 
The thought of having to file a police complaint, along with all the hassles involved, was enough to drive any senior citizen’sblood pressure up!
 
On Monday morning, they were at SBI branch at 9.30 and the manager met them at 9.45. Everyone at the branch was very polite and helpful. They attended to the complaint immediately; checked and found that the funds in both the accounts were safe. So they heaved a sigh of relief.
 
But imagine how baffled they were when they were told that it was, indeed, a call from SBI and the email ID, on which they sent the KYC documents, was genuine.
 
When they called me to inform that all was OK, we said a prayer—that the money was safe. 
 
But the next minute, we were all so angry for having undergone those hours of anxiety and tension. I wonder if anyone will be held to account for this?
 
Why was SBI calling a customer directly on a Saturday and asking for this information on phone? 
 
Isn’t this in direct contravention of the repeated messages they send to customers—that they never ask for KYC details on the phone? And why then does the Reserve Bank advertise so heavily in the media to warn customers about phishing calls? 
 
 
RBI advises regulated entities (REs) to adopt a risk-based approach for periodic updation of KYC. However, periodic updation is to be carried out at least once in every two years for high-risk customers, once in every eight years for medium risk customers and once in every ten years for low-risk customers from the date of opening of the account or last KYC updation. If there is no change in KYC information, the bank can ask the customer to submit a self-declaration through her email ID or mobile number registered with the RE. The customer can also use digital channels such as online or internet banking, and mobile application of the RE to submit the self-declaration. (Ref: RBI Master Directions on KYC updated on 10 May 2021)
 
Is the RBI’s role as a regulator only to “advise regulated entities”? Or does RBI have to ensure that its advice is implemented? After all, how is a customer to know which category she belongs to and how frequently her bank can ask her to update her KYC?
 
On 12 April 2021, Moneylife Foundation had submitted a memorandum to Shaktikanta Das, governor of RBI on 'Hardship and Financial Death Inflicted on Depositors Due to Arbitrary freezing of bank accounts, citing non-renewal of KYC documents and other reasons'
 
The memorandum highlighted lack of clarity on frequency and basis of KYC updation by banks. "There is no clarity to the account holder about her risk-categorisation and how often KYC needs to be updated, especially for bank accounts that are regularly in operation and clearly used only for routine personal or business transactions," the memorandum had stated. 
 
This is a true story and I am sharing with our readers as it provides evidence for the lax implementation of RBI’s supervision by public sector banks. 
 
Every such case of breach of mandated procedures encourages unscrupulous pranksters and gives them opportunity to play on this doubt in the customer’s mind – what if it is a genuine call and my account gets blocked. And people fall prey to phishing scams!
Comments
adityag
3 weeks ago
This is absolutely bonkers! The mental health that seniors go through is insane!
Lokeshnath45
3 weeks ago
The writer has not mentioned the Top Level Domain (eg. @sbi.co.in, @onlinesbi.com) of the email address that the kyc details was requested from and forwarded to by the sbi customer in this story ?
shirishk.87
3 weeks ago
Am I the only one who's thinking the most alarming thing in this ordeal is those SBI and RBI helpline nos. to block cards not working?

The RBI Governor can give great speeches at events about how clients of NBFC's under RBI will receive protection. But if there's no one picking up the phone (as in here), no NBFC ombudsman replying to your emails, isn't all this talk of justice just lip service?

RBI ran ads about how senior citizens can avail "home services". When I asked at a local SBI branch, they said the senior citizen must come to the branch and fill out a form.
Lokeshnath45
Replied to shirishk.87 comment 3 weeks ago
The Problem is, authorities who frame "Grievance Redressal" channels do not have to use the same channels as a common man, when they, their family, their relatives or their friends has to use it. So the people in position of authority who decides such a framework do not know the ineffectiveness of such "Grievance Redressal" channels that is rolled out for the common citizen's use.
aparajita.mukherjee65
3 weeks ago
Senior citizens, as it is, get so confused with technology and then these calls put them out of their minds…
Kamal Garg
3 weeks ago
Even if it is an urgent audit requirement, SBI officials have no authority to demand KYC documents over phone from a customer. The customer should not succumb to these kinds of pressures and tactics.
priya.priyadesai
3 weeks ago
Just about 3 to 4 weeks ago my brother's ( age 84) two cheques worth over 2 lac and drawn on Bank of India as payment for shares were rejected despite large amount in the SB Account. He is the retired employee of the same bank. The reason was lack of KYC updating. The Bank officials did not care to inform before taking this step when both the mobile no. And email ID were available to them. They had not informed him about KYC updating. This caused significant hardship to my brother.
bpugazhendhi
Replied to priya.priyadesai comment 3 weeks ago
The fact that he is a retired employee of the same bank indicates some poetic justice!

S.SuchindranathAiyer
3 weeks ago
Modi-Nilekani partnership: The Aadhar-KYC scam continues to claim victims everywhere: I received a threat, ostensibly from Canara Bank, demanding KYC by phone. Reported to Police. But will they act?
sachin_pu
3 weeks ago
Look closely at the logo of SBI. It is a plate and a white spoon. It means "We are on lunch. Please come after lunch time"
Kamal Garg
Replied to sachin_pu comment 3 weeks ago
And the lunch time is "forever".
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