Senate probe sought on state of financial consumer protections in PH
MANILA, Philippines — After becoming a victim himself of “financial cyber-thieves,” Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called on the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the state of financial consumer protections in the country.
“If the banks want to avoid listening to the complaints of the consumers who have entrusted them with their life savings, then we will call them here to the Senate and make them listen,” Gatchalian said in a privilege speech during Monday’s session.
Before this, the senator recalled how he himself suffered from nefarious individuals who racked up over P1 million of unauthorized transactions from his credit card earlier this month.
READ: Gatchalian seeks NBI help to probe credit card hacking
He said his case caught the attention of other individuals who fell victims to such instances of fraud.
Gatchalian told his colleagues that his office “has become a sort of unofficial financial consumer protection desk” over the past two weeks.
Nearly 100 informal complaints have so far reached his office, according to the senator.
These complaints include “a wide range of financial cybercrimes legally subsumed under the term ‘access device fraud’” like phishing, unauthorized transfers and withdrawals from deposit accounts, and payment card theft.
“It is not every day that a senator reports a million pesos worth of unauthorized transactions on his credit card,” he said.
However, Gatchalian said he found it unfortunate that the reports received by his office “imply that the swift and deliberate action taken” in investigating his financial complaint “is the exception, not the norm.”
“It is evident that the desperate pleas of many of my fellow victims of access device fraud and financial cyber crimes have fallen upon deaf or uncaring ears,” he said.
“It is our solemn duty as elected representatives of the people to give voice to their concerns and ensure that their grievances are acted upon. As such, this representation seeks the assistance of the appropriate Senate committees in conducting a formal inquiry in aid of legislation into the state of financial consumer protections in the Philippines,” he further said.
Specifically, the Senate should look into access device fraud and other cybercrimes involving theft from the bank accounts and unauthorized use of payment cards, Gatchalian said.
According to the senator, a Senate inquiry would be a “good way” to analyze and critique the country’s current regulatory regime “with an eye towards also improving synergy and strengthening cooperation between the [Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas], banks, and government agencies specializing in investigation, law enforcement, data privacy, and other applicable fields.”
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