Your 7 legal rights as a customer of a Bank are:
1. RIGHT TO WITHDRAW YOUR MONEY
First, your relationship with the bank is in the form of a contract, the terms of such a contract include making your money available to you whenever you need the same. Banks are under a duty to honor your cheque as long as you have funds in that account. This duty escalates to transfer requests and other forms of withdrawal requests. The Bank has no legal right to convert your money or refuse your withdrawal demand except by order of the court. In other words, the court can order banks to withhold your money if you are indebted to someone and garnishee proceedings have been commenced against you.
2. RIGHT TO CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT.
You have the right to walk up to any Bank and asked them to close your account. You are not under any legal duty to disclose to the bank your reason for demanding the closure.
Still, there are moments it becomes impossible to close the account. If your account is under investigation or a lien has been placed on the account or there is a pending court order against your account, it becomes impossible to close the account. Outside such situations, you can write to the bank or visit any of the branches of the bank and demand to close the account as long as you are no more comfortable with their services
3. RIGHT TO SAFEKEEPING OF YOUR DOCUMENTS WITH THE BANK.
In case you don’t know, it is not only money that you can save in the Bank. Some vital documents are equally stored in the banks for safekeeping. The bank is under a legal duty to protect all its customers’ documents in its possession. Failure to do so is a breach of their duty to you as their customer. The duty of the Bank in this regard also includes the duty to make such documents available when you need them. In a situation where the bank loses the document or it is destroyed while it is in their custody, you can sue the bank for negligence and breach of legal duty.
4. RIGHT TO SECRECY
The bank owes you the duty to protect the information which you submitted to them during the account opening. To disclose your information to third parties without your consent is a breach of duty. It is not just your information/details with the bank, but your every affair and transaction with the Bank. In other words, Banks are under a duty to protect the state of your account and not to disclose it to a third party, whether you are bankrupt or not (see the case of Turner v National Provincial and Union Bank of England)
Are they circumstances under which Banks can disclose your information without putting you on notice? Yes! These include:
- Where the disclosure is mandated by law or court.
- Where the bank owes the public the duty to do so.
- Where the interest of the bank requires disclosure
- Where the disclosure is made with your consent
4. RIGHT AGAINST UNNECESSARY CHARGES AND DEBIT
Banks can charge reasonable interest on credit facilities granted to you as their customer. The bank can as well charge reasonable and allowable commissions for the services they render to you, especially those services like card maintenance, SMS or email notification of transactions, and other services you subscribed to during the account opening. But the charges must be regulated by CBN. To debit you unnecessarily is fraudulent and actionable (the case of Innoson v GT bank for instance). The bank is only a custodian of your money and has no legal right to debit you mercilessly.
6. RIGHT TO NOTICE OF TRANSACTIONS AND DEBIT
Unless where your phone is stolen or your line with the Bank becomes inactive, and unless you demand otherwise, you are entitled to notice of transactions such as debit alert, deposit alert. The essence is that you have to be aware of whatever is happening in your account. So, the Bank owes you the duty to keep you informed of day-to-day happenings in your account. This is also one of your 7 legal rights as a customer of a Bank.
7. RIGHT TO SUE THE BANK
Where any of your legal rights are breached by the bank, you have the right to sue the bank in law for the purpose of redressing the wrong done to you. Many actions pending in different courts in Nigeria today are matters involving banks and their customers. The right to sue is one of your 7 legal rights as a customer of a bank. To sue any bank, simply contact your lawyer and brief him.