Gatchalian pushes probe on loan sharks, online scams

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian pushes for an inquiry into the proliferation of loan sharks and online lending schemes of certain firms outside the supervision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The move seeks to explore remedial legislation to address possible gaps in the existing policies by government regulating bodies and other concerned agencies following the emergence of online cash loan services of unlicensed lenders.

Gatchalian said the BSP should advise the public not to transact with these types of predatory lending. “Due to their vicious way of billing, some victims have reportedly  committed suicide and many also allegedly experience  death threats,” Gatchalian said in a news release.

The Senator who is vice chair the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, also warned those who are looking for quick loans. “They should be able to analyze if a company’s lending method is questionable,” he said.

Gatchalian said his office continues to receive complaints from victims of online lending companies and lending apps, majority of whom claim to have suffered various forms of grave threats, intimidation, and public-shaming from debt collectors.

In December last year, the SEC revoked the certificate of authority of online firm Super Cash Lending Corp. after it was found to have engaged in unfair debt collection practices while the National Privacy Commission (NPC) last February recommended the prosecution of Fynamics Lending Inc., the operator of the PondoPeso online lending app for harassing and public-shaming delinquent borrowers and for violating the data privacy law.

Gatchalian has sought the enactment of his proposed Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (Senate Bill1366) which seeks to prohibit 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 non-payment of debt will result to arrest, imprisonment, garnishment or sale of any property.

The measure also bars creditors and debt collectors from accessing personal information of the debtors without their consent.