There are instances when one’s situation forces one to go into debt. Walang-wala ng matatakbuhan na kapamilya or kaibigan kaya uutang sa 5/6 ng bombay, sa credit card, at sa mga online lenders app.
It is true that ang utang dapat bayaran. A debt must be paid. At syempre if may utang ka, puede kang singilin ng nagpautang sayo but the creditor can only use “all reasonable and legally permissible means” to collect debt. Hindi puedeng iharass ka.
In the Philippines, we have a law called Lending Company Regulation Act. This law regulates the lending industry – online and physical companies.
Are you being harassed by debt collectors?
There is a law that protects Filipinos from harassment by debt collector agencies. If you are being harassed by credit card collectors or by online lending app collectors, seek help from the government.
Under the Philippine Credit Card Industry Regulation Act of 2016, otherwise known as Republic Act (RA) 10870, the following are NOT ALLOWED:
Threatening the debtor about a case filed in court. Eto yun kung saan sinasabihan ang may utang na kakasuhan sa korte or naihabla na.
Using barangay officials or men in uniform to force a borrower to pay. This is when the online lender or credit card collector solicits the help of barangay officials or police para mapuwersa ang may utang na magbayad.
Going and intruding into debtors’ homes to collect money. Eto yun kung saan pupwersahin ng collector na pumasok sa bahay para pagbayarin ng utang.
Smearing the name of the debtor by calling or contacting his or her work colleague, contacting his/her contacts family and friends, contacting the employer, and informing these people na may utang ka sa kanila.
Bombarding the debtor with text messages or calls.
Claiming the debtor has a hold departure order or has been blacklisted in NBI, Police, etc.
Aside from Republic Act 10870, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or BSP issued CIRCULAR NO. 454 Series of 2004, among it’s salient point is that debt collector are prohibited from engaging in unscrupulous or untoward acts. The following conduct is a violation the BSP guideline:
a) the use or threat of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person;
b) the use of obscenities, insults, or profane language which amount to a criminal act or offense under applicable laws;
*Bawal na bawal ang murahin ang kliyente or insultuhin.
c) disclosure of the names of credit cardholders who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except as allowed under Subsec. X320.9 and 4301N.9;
*Bawal din ang sabihan ang mga contacts ng may utang about sa outstanding debt.
d) threat to take any action that cannot legally be taken;
e) communicating or threat to communicate to any person credit information which is known to be false, including failure to communicate that a debt is being disputed;
f) any false representation or deceptive means to collect or attempt to collect any debt or to obtain information concerning a cardholder; and
g) making contact at unreasonable/inconvenient times or hours which shall be defined as contact before 6:00 A.M. or after 10:00 P.M., unless the account is past due for more than sixty (60) days or the cardholder has given express permission or said times are the only reasonable or convenient opportunities for contact.
Credit card collectors as well as online lender collectors are only allowed to contact you from 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM, unless ang utang mo is lagpas na sa 60 days past due, or ikaw mismo nagbigay ng pahintulot na kontakin ka ng ibang oras, or yung oras na 10:01 PM to 5:59 AM ay yun lang ang oras na puede kang makontak. But calls and text messages has to be reasonable. Hindi naman puede na sunod-sunod na text or calls ang matatanggap mo.
What to do if you are being harassed:
If you have the means, record all calls made by the collector, inform the caller that you are recording the call.
Screenshot all the texts sent by the collector.
All these can be used as evidence when you file a complaint or case againts the collection agency.
The Borrower has the right to ask the name of the collector and the company they represent.
Tanungin ko sino ang tumatawag and anong company.
Contact the BSP’s Financial Consumer Affairs Group (firstname.lastname@example.org or (02) 708- 7087) and provide the necessary information about your complaint. Be as complete as possible.
You may also visit the BSP. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas regulates credit card companies, we also believe that online lending apps are under them.
We visited DTI last week and they said that for online scams, online harassment, the complainant go to NBI and not DTI unless these online lending apps are duly registered with DTI. *They said that this is because NBI has more means to track online scams, frauds, etc.
You may also want to report the app in Google Play so that there is a chance that these online lender apps which are harassing clients and doing unscrupulous practices will be removed from the list of available app on Android. Choose “Unlawful Activity” as the reason why you are reporting the app.
Here’s the link to report to Google Play, indicate the app name in the explanation why you report the app. Let the reviewers know how these companies engages in unfair debt collection practices and harasses you.
By the way, the National Privacy Commission or NPC has started investigating several online lending apps because there are now lots of complaints againts them.
“Over the past few months, we received almost identical complaints that pile up by the day from individuals accusing online lending apps of rude practices. Complainants say the harassment and shaming started when they failed to pay their balances on time. The people behind the lending app called or texted their contact list about their inability to return the money, causing them embarrassment and emotional stress,”Statement by Privacy Commissioner Raymund Enriquez Liboro
Upon download, the mobile apps allegedly require access to contact information, photos, files and documents saved in the borrower’s phone, before processing of the online loan application can proceed. If a borrower fails to pay on time, all of his or her phone contacts receive a collection text message or call stating the borrower’s full name and outstanding balance.
“The NPC has started conducting hearings on the cases and it is vital that we also hear the respondent’s side of the story and we would highly appreciate it if they cooperate,” Liboro said.
In case culpability is established, erring mobile online lending operators may face temporary or permanent ban from operating while the NPC may also award damages to affected individuals. The cases could also be referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. However, during the course of the proceedings, the parties may opt for mediation where they may freely arrive into settlement.
Contact NPC at Trunk line No: (02) 234 22 28 local 114.
To end this post, we at iSensey strongly recommends that if you have a debt, pay it in full. Avoid headaches, pay your obligation, preferably before the debt becomes due. But if di talaga maiiwasan na madelay ang payment, know that you have consumer rights againts unfair debt collection practices and harassment.
Share this post para mas madaming makaka-alam na hindi puede mangharass ang mga collectors ng utang.