In 2008 I moved to Dubai to work in the advertising industry. My company applied for a credit card on my behalf. Shortly after my arrival the recession hit, and I had to rely on my credit card more and more. In the beginning I could manage the repayments just fine. However, after some period of time, may salary was delayed and eventually cut, but added to the load on the card, and the situation whereby I could not meet the monthly payment obligations.
In May 2010 I lost my job. The labour practice state that if you leave a company, you are imposed a 6 month ban to work in a similar industry, your Visa is cancelled and you have to leave the country within one month.
Unfortunately I had now way to pay back the credit card, as I could not secure a job. Reluctantly I had to leave by debt behind.
I am living back in South Africa now, and in March 2011 I got a call from a company called Bilkish. I ignored the emails and blew them off. In September 2011 I got another call, this time from a lady saying she called from the Arab-African Alliance. However, the email they sent me was from a Bilkish domain.
I am not in a financial position to repay any of the debt at the moment.
Once I am able, I wish to start paying back the debt.
I have a few questions:
1) What kind of company is Bilkish? Google searched gives me zero.
2) Can they act on behalf of the bank?
3) What authority do they have?
4) Can they take me to court in South Africa, or have me extradited?
5) I know I cannot go back to Dubai, nor do I want to, but what other restrictions can they impose?
6) I have received nothing other than calls and emails. Shall I request more detail, i.e. letter from the bank or letter of demand, summons etc.?
So I believe Bilkish is a debt collection agency and is probably contracted out by the bank in Dubai to ATTEMPT to collect the money owed. They typically work on a contingency fee basis and get a percentage of what they manage to collect. In these types of arrangements they are motivated to be tenacious and may find themselves stepping over the line in an effort to win their commission.
I can’t speak about the law in South Africa but I can tell you I can’t remember anyone writing me from South Africa that was sued for a Dubai debt. While you may have a criminal case filed against you in Dubai, they will not extradite you from South Africa. I’ve never heard of that happening.
But until this matter is resolved, make sure you do not travel to Dubai or any GCC country. You will probably be arrested.
You can either fight this mater and ask for additional information or change this relationship with the collector and make them your friend instead of being afraid of them. The nicer you are to them, the less “power” they have over you. You don’t need to admit to anything nor agree to any payment plan. I’d just suggest being cordial on the phone and wait until your case has flowed through their collection process and they eventually stop calling you.
If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to find a debt counselling service in South Africa that is registered with the National Credit Regulator.
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.