Senator Win Gatchalian expressed alarm over the widespread debt collection harassment and deceptive collection practices of some lending companies. This was after the senator’s office was recently sought out by a group of some 20,000 complainants of various online lending companies and lending apps and who claimed to have been subjected to grave threats, intimidation, public-shaming, and other unfair and abusive debt collection practices.
A number of them have fallen prey to online lending schemes of some companies following the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the senator was told.
“It’s disturbing to hear from the complainants that they have been subjected to not just public-shaming but even death threats. It appears that from the onset, some of these lending companies are out to dupe those vulnerable to predatory lending. This has to stop,” Gatchalian said.
Aside from policies being enforced by government regulating agencies, Gatchalian said the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which he filed last year, is a complementary measure to protect consumers against despicable tactics of debt collectors and of deceptive online financing or lending companies.
“Alam nating lahat na obligasyon ng nangutang ang magbayad ng kanyang utang. Kung pumalya sa pagbabayad ang nangutang, dapat idaan sa tama at ligal na proseso at hindi sa paraan na kailangang gamitan ng dahas, pananakot at pamamahiya sa taong nangutang,” said the Vice Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act contained in Senate Bill No. 1366, prohibits debt collectors from harassing or threatening the debtor and his or her family with death or physical injuries, inflict harm on the debtor’s reputation or give misleading claims that that non-payment of debt will result to arrest, imprisonment, garnishment or sale of any property. Creditors and debt collectors are also barred from accessing personal information of the debtor without the consent of the concerned person.
The bill likewise seeks to place the debt collector and the consumer-borrower in the same level playing field as the measure provides adequate legal remedies to borrowers who are victims of such wayward practices.