Solon calls out credit card companies ‘harassing’ cardholders with unpaid dues
MANILA, Philippines — Ang Probinsyano Rep. Ronnie Ong on Friday called out credit card companies for allegedly harassing clients with unpaid balances amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement, Ong said cardholders are being supposedly being threatened by collection agents with lawsuits over their failure to settle their balances.
Clients are also allegedly threatened that they would have their bank accounts frozen or their properties foreclosed, he added.
“This intimidation, this flexing of their power is wrong and insensitive,” the lawmakers said in a statement.
“We are still in the pandemic where life is hard and the issuing banks are not focusing on the issue at hand but are even going after other unrelated accounts, loans and properties of the helpless consumers, effectively shutting down their other financial means,” he added.
What is “even more reprehensible” according to Ong is that many, if not all, of the cases involving late credit card payments are due to the application of grace periods provided under the two Bayanihan laws, both of which provided safety nets for the credit card companies and for the transacting public.
Under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, banks were required to implement a 30-day grace period for all loans with principal and/or interest falling within the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period without incurring interest on interest, penalties, fees or other charges.
The initial 30-day period was automatically extended whenever the ECQ period was also extended, Ong noted.
Meanwhile, the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act extended the maturity date of some loans after banks were required to implement a 60-day grace period for all loans, or any part thereof, falling due on or before December 31, 2020, without incurring interest on interest, penalties, fees or other charges.
“The real issue is not about the late payments of credit cardholders but the big neglect on the part of banks to either compute the right amount in due or simply show a breakdown which portions of the loans were affected by the grace periods and where do the accrued interests and penalties come from,” Ong said.
Ong said banks should uphold the basic right of the transacting public to be informed of the correct amount of credit card balance and to be given a clear breakdown of their unresolved payments instead of resorting to harassment.
“These banks are also affected by the pandemic and they need money, we know that. But what we are calling for is fairness instead of harassment,” he said.
“Just apply the law and provide the people accurate information on the amount of loan that is really due. They need explanations not threats,” he added.
Ong then pointed to when the Energy Regulatory Commission slapped a P19-million fine on the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) last year in connection with its “failure to clearly indicate” that its charges during the early months of enhanced community quarantine were just estimates, resulting to the so-called “bill-shock.”
The lawmaker also said that many cardholders faced the cancellation of their credit cards instead of mere suspension until their next full payments.
Ong said that banks can simply give due notice within a reasonable timeframe before billing deadlines, owing to the fact that some clients may have simply overlooked the matter during this period of time. Zac Sarao, INQUIRER.net trainee