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Three Reasons Why You Should Read the Fine Print On Your Bank Documents before Signing Them

Fine prints are, for most people, just a decorative addendum to the main piece of information conveyed in such things as food and pharmaceutical product labels, or contract documents. We prefer to concentrate on the more visible large prints which we think reveal all we need to know about the product to which they refer.

The truth is that fine prints are more than just a fancy inclusion to bank papers and product labels. In fact, they usually contain information that is at least as important as what the “main” text makes known. In them you may find that you have greater freedom to manoeuvre in your business with a bank than you previously knew was possible; or you could also discover that the product is little more than a one-way conduit pipe, designed to syphon as much money from you as the bank that sells it thinks is possible.

Here are three reasons why you really need to examine the tiny notes at the end of your bank documents:

  1. Hidden Fees and Charges
    Terms and conditions apply, but these terms and conditions, if clearly stated to potential customers, may scare them away. As a result, some banks have come up with ingenious ways of disclosing information about transaction fees and charges, while making such information as inaccessible as is legally possible. Additional costs are often made known in an almost undecipherable script, leaving account owners and loan borrowers in shock when they are ‘reminded’ of their burdensome obligations by their bank.
  2. Restriction on Possible Legal Action
    If a customer perceives that the bank has breached a contract it has with him or her, the customer may want to seek redress in court. However, certain agreements signed by bank customers contain clauses which greatly curtail their ability to sue the bank even if the bank is the party at fault. In a few cases, they may even forbid legal action of any kind by the customer. All of this is usually “made clear” in fine print. And all too often, they are overlooked by people who are eager to append their signature to an otherwise convincing piece of paper.
  3. Possible Flexibility
    Details don’t always harbour devils. Flexibility options for bank loans could be found in the small prints as well. These could come in the form of information on instalments and lump sum payments that could help in reducing the amount of money that a borrower eventually has to repay the bank.

A lot of the time, fine prints are worth the squint. It is also not a bad idea to seek the help of a banker friend if the documents possess the added characteristic of being riddled with technical terms. Just be sure that you read everything contained in a paper before you sign it- even if this requires the use of a magnifying glass.

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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