Online lenders warned against 'debt-shaming'

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2019 12:40 PM | Updated as of Sep 06 2019 04:52 PM

MANILA – Online lending operators who violate data privacy laws through public shaming may face fines and jail time, the National Privacy Commission said Friday.

Creditors who violate data privacy laws through "debt-shaming" may face up to 7 years in jail and may be asked to pay fines of up to P5 million, NPC commissioner Raymund Liboro said.

Formal charges have been filed against the operators of 3 online lending firms. They were given 10 days to submit a formal answer, Liboro said.

Complaints against PondoPeso Online Lending operator Fynamics Lending, Cashlending Online operator Unipeso Lending Company and Fast Cash Online Lending operator Cash Global Lending account for two thirds of the total record this year, the NPC said.

Complaints include the use of contact list or phone directory without consent, disclosure of unwarranted or false information to other person, use of personal information for harassment and the unduly intrusive personal data processing, the NPC said.

"Biggest danger dito, damage to the person is permanent... May mga nawalan ng trabaho. Even their employability is now in jeopardy," Liboro said.

(The danger here is the damage to the person is permanent... Some lost their jobs. Even their employability is now in jeopardy.)

"Once ikaw ang mabigyan ng judgement, judgement of the mob, napakamahirap na," he said.

(It's difficult once the mob has judged you.)

The NPC earlier said it would work with other agencies to address the spike in complaints against "debt-shaming" by online lenders if borrowers if were remiss in loan payments.

The public should be careful when using online apps that ask for "dangerous permissions" that provide lenders with access to their location, phonebook, social media accounts and even camera controls in exchange for cash, Liboro said.

As of Aug. 31, 921 formal complaints were filed against online lenders, data from the NPC showed.