In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
Credit Sudhaar, a non-specified user entity is sending mails to people whose loans have been rejected. It not only claims to enhance and protect but also 'restore' credit of individuals for a yearly fee of Rs16,000. However, the firm has no answer about how it could do the job
Is Credit Sudhaar, a firm set up by former bankers Gaurav Wadhwani and Arun Ramamurthy, again misleading people through tall claims in a mail campaign? (http://www.creditsudhaar.com/welcome_3.php ) Its inability to answer Moneylife’s queries about its claims would suggest it is the case. Earlier too the firm had claimed to have a tie up with Credit Information Bureau (India) or CIBIL and was offering credit advisory services at CIBIL Market Place. Till today, both Credit Sudhaar and CIBIL have kept mum about their ‘strange’ collaboration. But more about it later.
Meanwhile, at an open house with Dr KC Chakrabarty, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) an inmate claimed that when CIBIL sends a defaulter report, that person also gets an SMS from Credit Sudhaar, suggesting a partnership.
In the recent email campaign, Credit Sudhaar is asking people to become its members by paying an annual fee of Rs16,000 (earlier it used to ask Rs10,000 for the same job at CIBIL Market Place). It claims with this kind of membership fees, one can “restore, enhance and protect” one’s credit! Here is what Credit Sudhaar claims to provide in lieu of the Rs16,000...
When we asked Mr Wadhwani and Mr Ramamurthy to explain, how exactly this works, they avoided providing answers. Instead, Mr Ramamurthy, forwarded our mail to their PR agency, which, sought a week to reply. When we requested the agency for answers, T (Talari) Anand Mahesh, managing director of Mavcomm Consulting Pvt Ltd (the PR agency) cautioned us against publishing any content pertaining to Credit Sudhaar without receiving a suitable response by the authorised persons or directors.
“If you choose to go ahead, you and your company shall do so at your own peril and costs,” Mr Talari said.
Here are the questions we asked to Credit Sudhaar...
1. As mentioned in our stories (Credit scores are a big zero and http://foundation.moneylife.in/?th_galleries=experian-credit-score-camp ), not all credit bureaus in India are providing detailed CIR or credit scores to individuals (due to lack of data). So how "Multibureau Analysis of CIBIL, EQUIFAX, EXPERIAN Credit Reports" works?
2. As per our information and understanding, there is no training facility or institute for credit counsellors in India. How and from where your counsellors are trained and received certification?
3. Is the National Association of Certified Credit Counsellors (NACCC) accreditation recognised or accepted in India? If yes, then can you please tell us names of the entities who recognise or accept this accreditation in India?
4. Your mailer claims to provide "error tracking and reconciliation". Can you please explain what exactly does one (and how) reconcile a credit report?
Till writing the story, neither Mr Wadhwani and Mr Ramamurthy nor Mr Talari has provided any answers. We will incorporate their answers as and when we receive it.
Coming back to Credit Sudhaar's earlier tall claims, there is still no word from CIBIL on this strange partnership. Earlier, in an email, CIBIL had said, “It is important to note that to access CIBIL Market Place, consumers access their own credit report and score. The service is available to the consumer if he chooses to avail of it and not otherwise. This approach works well for consumers who have good credit health but is not effective for consumers who do not. Consumers who are in a debt trap and not financially literate are not able to identify assistance easily if they need it.”
Surprisingly, at that time Credit Sudhaar sent us a screen grab of the CIBIL Market Place . The images showed Credit Sudhaar as the only entity providing any service to customers at CIBIL Market Place.
Moneylife then pointed out to CIBIL that Credit Sudhaar was neither registered with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as a non-banking finance company (NBFC) nor it was a specified user entity of the credit bureau and was still accessing credit records of crores of individuals.
Credit Sudhaar is just a specific services provider. CIBIL was allowing credit institutions and others to sell their loan products or other services on its Market Place. Credit Sudhaar was only registered on Market Place to offer “credit advisory” service for which the charges were Rs10,000 (it was mentioned as processing fees).
In an email reply, the firm had said, “Credit Sudhaar is associated with both Safe Capital and Dipran. Both Safe Capital and Dipran are members of CIBIL”. This also means, Credit Sudhaar may be using either Safe Capital or Dipran’s login credentials to access the CIBIL database, especially the portfolio review, which gives complete details of an individual.
CIBIL replied, saying, "With specific reference to the suggested misuse of benefits by certain of our Members, we are investigating the same and will take appropriate action." There is still no word from CIBIL on the investigation.
A consumer was denied home loan because CIBIL mixed up his credit history or record with someone else. Another was denied a loan due to gender mismatch. This could happen to you as well
Moneylife and Moneylife Foundation have been continuously raising question on the quality of credit reports and data in India. Here is a shocking case of Umesh Dhawan, who was denied a home loan of Rs5 lakh because his credit history or record data was mixed up with someone else, who was a defaulter. Mr Dhawan has been wrongly blaming ICICI Bank for the problem, while Credit Information Bureau (India) (CIBIL) was at fault.
CIBIL, the credit bureau while accepting its mistake in merging the credit record of Mr Dhawan with another person, has issued an apology and sent a fresh credit report to him, after a mail from Moneylife and strong intervention by ICICI Bank to which we forwarded the customer’s complaint. Even then, CIBIL provided ICICI Bank with an apology meant for the customer and not directly to Mr Dhawan. An explanation was forthcoming only when Moneylife wrote to CIBIL.
While Mr Dhawan’s record would be cleared, there may be several such cases where a person's credit record or data is mixed up with someone else. In a similar case, a senior financial consultant, DM Mahalaxmi also had to go through the same trauma. The question therefore is who will compensate for the loss of repute and trauma experienced by Mr Dhawan and Ms Mahalaxmi.
“Credit information submitted to CIBIL pertained to Umesh Uhawan who had taken a joint loan with Rahul Biswas. Since information pertaining to Umesh Uhawan and Umesh Dhawan were similar, the system matched the details pertaining to Umesh Uhawan with Umesh Dhawan,” CIBIL said in an email to Moneylife.
However, this raises bigger question on the credibility of credit bureaus, their data and ability to crunch the data. Matching data fields like name, date of birth, address, telephone numbers and identifiers like PAN, passport number and voter ID card is a challenge, especially in a country like India. However, over the years credit bureaus like CIBIL have developed an algorithm that is supposed to consider several fields before making a match.
When information in relation to a person whose credit information report (CIR) is to be obtained is fed into the system, a best possible CIR is generated based on the match rules with the available data. When sufficient data elements between two sets of personal data overlap, the information of two different accounts are merged in the CIR, CIBIL said.
In the case of Mr Dhawan, CIBIL said, “Based on the dispute raised by the consumer, we had done an in-depth analysis, it was observed based on the data submitted to us and our match riles, the CIR generated for the consumer had details of another individual mixed in the consumer’s report. We have immediately taken corrective action to separate the information.”
This is a verbatim of the reply received by Ms Mahalaxmi from CIBIL. There may be several such cases, but the credit bureau has refused to divulge the numbers. It said, "The rate at which incorrect merges occur at CIBIL is very low, and is competitive with bureaus of similar size and maturity globally.” Strangely, CIBIL is not answerable to the public as it continues to have a near monopoly on customer credit data or records.
CIBIL is also silent on the exact number of fields that are matched before deciding to merge data of two persons and creating a single CIR. “When enough data elements between two sets of personal data overlap, the information for the two subjects is merged together. The rules, which decide when enough data has overlapped to trigger a merge have evolved over the lifetime of CIBIL, based on annual analysis of the overall consumer dataset. In order to present the consolidated credit history of a person in a credit information report there are a few sets of match rules. The CIR is generated only when such rules are satisfied,” it said.
In the case of Mr Dhawan, were the fields like date of birth, address, PAN number, matched? Looks unlikely. This also means there is something wrong in the process itself.
Moneylife has been raising the issue of credit tracking system, which the above mentioned incidents show, is still in a mess and crippling financial life for no fault of the consumer.
According to sources, following the letter from Moneylife Foundation to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor D Subbarao on 13 December 2012, there has been quite some progress on the issues. The RBI has also set up a task force address some of the data parity problems between credit bureaus and lenders, the sources said.
Earlier, following the complaint letter, the RBI has asked banks and financial institutions (FIs) to share historical data with new credit bureaus, of which they had become members.
The financial literacy initiative of Moneylife Foundation, has led to the discovery that credit-tracking remains faulty in several ways. The Foundation also discovered that licensing of four credit bureaus without a level playing field, in terms of access to credit information and historical data, has created a system that is not functioning as it was supposed to.
Moneylife Foundation, through a day-long workshop and counselling on credit reports and issues and through few case studies, also discovered that most of the lenders only look at CIBIL data while others do not even bother to look at a credit report at all before making lending decisions.
There has been much discussion over the accuracy of the data in consumer reports. In general, industry participants maintain that the data in credit reports is very accurate. The credit bureaus point to their own study of 52 million credit reports to highlight that the data in reports is very accurate. The Consumer Data Industry Association testified before the US Congress that less than 2% of those reports that resulted in a consumer dispute had data deleted because it was in error. Nonetheless, there is widespread concern that information in credit reports is prone to error. Thus, the Congress has enacted a series of laws aimed to resolve both the errors and the perception of errors.
However, the goof up in the above mentioned two examples of Mr Dhawan and Ms Mahalaxmi, clearly highlights the need for audits and scrutiny of credit bureaus as well.
NOTE: If you are facing similar issue, you may want to get help from Moneylife Foundation's free Credit Helpline http://www.freecredithelp.in/
HDFC Bank's new base rate of 9.6% is the lowest among all lenders including SBI, which has a base rate of 9.7%
HDFC Bank, India's second largest private sector lender said it would cut its base rate by 10 basis points to 9.6% from 30th March. HDFC Bank is the first lender to cut base rate following a 25 bps cut in repo rate by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
At the same time, the benchmark prime lending rate (BPLR) of HDFC Bank is expected to be slashed by similar margin to 18.10%.
Post this reduction HDFC Bank’s base rate will be the lowest among major banks. Among other private banks, ICICI Bank’s base rate is 9.75% since April 2012, while that of Axis Bank is 10%. At present, State Bank of India (SBI), the country's largest lender offers a base rate of 9.7%.