The Financial Supervisory Service conducted a two-month investigation into Lotte Card, as the company ranked bottom in consumer protection among five major credit card issuers.
“(For an intensive probe), we dispatched inspectors to the headquarters of Lotte Card between September and October (in 2012),” an FSS official told The Korea Herald on Tuesday.
In addition to the on-site investigation, the FSS summoned Lotte Card’s executives to be held accountable for the poor grade and called on them to take measures amid growing complaints among customers.
The complaints included blackmailing of cardholders while collecting overdue loans.
The credit card unit of Lotte Group was given the lowest grade of “class 5” by the FSS in the first half of last year in the yearly consumers’ complaints inspection.
To prevent consumer exploitation and unfair transactions, the state financial regulator has publically assigned “grades” every year in April to credit card firms, insurance companies and banks.
The FSS official said the firm’s total amount of capital and other non-capital factors were also considered in the rating process.
“Now we are working on the evaluation process for the 2013 report (which will be made public in April),” said the FSS official at the consumer protection unit.
According to another statement by the FSS, consumer complaints and dispute arbitration requests soared between January 2012 and September 2012, showing an 11.9 increase compared to the previous year.
Consumer complaints concerning credit finance firms -- and their illegal debt collection in particular -- showed a 28.5 percent on-year increase.
Consumers’ requests for FSS dispute arbitration increased about 19 percent on-year as well.
By Chung Joo-won
<한글 기사>소비자보호 꼴찌 롯데카드, 금감원에 ‘혼쭐’
롯데카드가 부당 채권추심 등을 일삼은 이유로, 지난해 하반기 금융당국의 집중 조사를 받았던 것으로 22일 확인됐다.
금융감독원 관계자는 “지난 9월과 10월 (해당 회사 본점에) 검사역들을 파견해 현장조사를 실시했고 고위 임원을 불러 시정요구도 하달했다”고 밝혔다.
이는 금감원이 작년에 실시한 민원발생평가에서 롯데카드가 신용카드 전업 5개사 중 최하위 및 최하위 등급(5등급)을 기록한 데에 따른 문책성 조처다.
‘협박’ 등의 수단을 동원해 카드결제대금을 연체한 소비자를 괴롭히는 행위가 부당 채권추심에 속한다.
당시 삼성카드가 1등급, 신한카드와 현대카드가 2등급, 하나SK카드가 4등급을 받은 바 있다. 금감원은 다시 최근 1년치 연례민원평가에 대한 분석에 착수한 상태고, 오는 4월 결과를 발표할 예정이다.
(코리아헤럴드 정주원 기자 / email@example.com)