LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)- The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC), and Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), this week teamed up against financial institutions that are duping customers with misleading adverts.

This comes following the central bank received numerous complaints as far back as from 2013, which were 13 but now the figure has risen to 500 claiming that financial institutions are misleading customers when trading them.

Through the country-wide financial sector surgeries conference, the two institutions are raising awareness on fair trading practices among the financial institution players.

The exercise will help to lessen anti-competitive business practices among them, and in the process, create more protection shield for consumers.

Speaking on the sidelines of the financial literacy conference in Lilongwe this week RBM’S chief examiner for protection and financial literacy, Madalitso Chamba, observed that the increase in complaints shows that Malawians are becoming aware of their rights.

Chamba said financial literacy surgeries for the financial sector are important because financial sector players will now know that it is important to give all information a customer requires before they secure a loan or sign contracts.

“The RBM wants to promote fair competition in the financial sector, and by working hand-in-hand with the CFTC, consumers will be protected. Initially, people did not know that they could complain, but now following the massive campaigns we have conducted, people know their financial rights.

“We expect customers’ interests to be at the heart of how firms do business. Customers can expect to get financial services and products that meet their needs from firms that they can trust,” said Chilombo.

Underscoring these sentiments, CFTC director of consumer welfare and education Lewis Kulisewa, said that the level of awareness, among consumers and financial players, is low, which aggravates the situation.

Kulisewa said CFTC wants players in the financial sector to understand the law and how it is interpreted, so that it helps them comply to them.

“Disclosure must be made in standardized formats for common products to allow comparability of products or services of the same nature.

‘Financial institutions must have appropriate structures for handling consumer complaints. Well-designed recourse and dispute resolution mechanisms can help consumers quickly and effectively resolve problems and questions as they arise,” Kulisewa said.

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