When collectors come calling for debts you don’t owe 1

When collectors come calling for debts you don’t owe

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Sep 06 2021 03:46 PM

We can all fall on hard times. For some, a medical emergency can wipe out their savings, leaving them with no choice but to take on debt. For others, it could be living beyond their means such as buying a car they cannot really afford, or even personal luxuries like designer bags and shoes to keep up with neighbors, friends or office colleagues.

Whatever the reason, being trapped in debt is never easy. You could suffer sleepless nights, anxiety attacks and be hounded by calls day and night from creditors. 

But what if that poor situation spills over to people around them, or even to strangers? What can you do if an officemate is receiving too many calls from creditors, harassing them at work and by association you too? You don’t need to suffer in silence, nor be a bystander as they are subjected to threats for not paying. Here are some ways you can help.

Report credit card companies and agencies for unfair collection practices

A former colleague could no longer pay her credit card balance and when the debt was passed on to a collection agency, the calls became more and more frequent that she refused to pick up her phone. First, I had to learn to ignore the non-stop ringing. But then the collector became creative and decided to change the last digit of my colleague’s office number to try to reach others around her and managed to guess my local.

The voice of the collector alone was already aggravating. He was aggressive and even knowing that I was not the one who owed them, he proceeded to share details of the collection. In this case, you can report the agency and the credit card company he represents to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as BSP Circular 454 clearly states that banks, credit card companies, collection agencies, counsels and any other agents cannot publicly disclose the names of credit cardholders who owe them as well as details of the debt.

Other things they cannot do:

  • Threaten a person, their reputation or their property
  • Use of obscenity and insults during any contact, whether calls or texts
  • Using false representation or deceptive means to collect debt or get info on the cardholder
  • Contacting the cardholder at unreasonable hours (that’s before 6 a.m. or after 10 p.m.) if the debt is not more than sixty days overdue

If you received the call and the party on the other end informed you of the debt, the account details and used deceptive means to collect information on your officemate, take down the agency’s name and the bank or credit card company and send an email to consumeraffairs@bsp.gov.ph.

You don’t have to be the debtor to file the complaint, but it would be good for you to let your officemate know that you will be doing this. If he or she is open to discuss this with you, point her to this site for more information on unfair collection practices, and also the consequences of not paying the debt: https://www.bsp.gov.ph/Media_and_Research/Primers%20Faqs/CCS5.pdf

Help collectors do their jobs better

Not all collectors are aggressive and I have spoken to some who are professionals only doing their difficult jobs.

When I resigned from my employer, I had to apply for a new mobile number under a personal plan. On the first day, I received 5 collection calls, including one from the mobile phone company!

Apparently, my new mobile number is a recycled number and the former owner left behind unpaid bills with the telecom company (who strangely enough was reminding me to pay for the former owner’s bill and mine at the same time), two credit card companies, and a cable company. He also had pending loan applications with several lenders who kept contacting me for additional information to release the loans.

That was a chaotic first month where I fielded calls from banks and collectors. To my surprise, nearly all save for one understood my tricky situation. I had to explain I am not in any way related to nor acquainted with the previous owner of the phone number, and was assigned the new contact very recently. I also had to make the same explanation to the mobile phone company, believe it or not. Eventually, the calls tapered off and I now just get the occasional text reminders which I promptly delete or ignore.

One collector thanked me for explaining the situation instead of just hanging up. Do the same and you would be helping yourself and the collectors too.

If you’re a glass half full type of person, be grateful that the calls are not being directed to you. As I wrote earlier, we can all fall on hard times. How hard the fall will be will depend largely on how much savings you were able to set aside for life’s emergencies and how you prioritize spending between needs and wants. Now is the time to be smarter with money, and save whenever you can.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.


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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.