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Hontiveros slams, wants probe into debt-shaming of lending firms

/ 10:50 AM September 19, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros is seeking an investigation on the alleged debt-shaming practice of some online lending firms.

“These predatory online lending companies are exploiting the poverty and desperation of our people. Maliliit ang utang, pero kung maningil, akala mo si Janet Lim-Napoles ang sinisingil. No one should profit from harassment and shaming small people,” Hontiveros said in a statement on Thursday.

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“Tama na ang utang ay dapat binabayaran. Pero hindi ito dahilan para sa mga lending companies na gamitin ang utang, lalo na kung maliliit ang halaga, para magpahiya at manira ng buhay. It’s not an excuse to bully, shame and violate a person’s privacy,” she added.

In filing Senate Resolution No. 136, Hontiveros asked the proper Senate committee “to inquire, in aid of legislation, into updating the existing legal framework regulating online lending to prevent abusive collection practices while improving access to credit.”

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Hontiveros noted that 931 complaints have already been filed before the National Privacy Commission (NPC) by aggrieved borrowers complaining of harassment, threats, verbal abuse and even unauthorized access to their phones’ list of contacts.

Many of the reports, she said, are rife with cases of shaming and violation of privacy by debt collectors.

She also said that according to the NPC, the business model, which seems to originate from China, “has also failed to comply with regulations on authorized disclosure, transparency, and the proper processing of personal data.”

“This business model appears to have originated in China, whose regulators are currently in the midst of a crackdown against online lenders employing violent and invasive debt-collection methods,” Hontiveros said in her resolution./gsg

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