Three online lending firms in the Philippines have been fined by the National Privacy Commission (NPC) due to a series of debt shaming incidents. Executives from these firms reportedly fail jail time for up to 7 years. Moreover, these online lenders are slated to pay fines up to 5 million Philippine pesos.
The three firms charged include Fynamics Lending Incorporated who manages PondoPeso app, Unipeso Lending Company managing the Cashlending app, and Fcash Global Lending handling the Fast Cash application. In total, Rappler reports a combined total of 16 officers are charged for shaming and harassing borrowers who failed to pay dues on time.
Business Inquirer states that the National Privacy Commission decided to file cases against the said companies after receiving more than 560 complaints about officers harassing and shaming borrowers.
According to the fact-finding reports released, all of the three firms mined the contact list of borrowers without obtaining prior consent. When borrowers fail to make their due payment on time, the lenders will inform the people on the contact list about the unpaid debt, resulting in shaming and harassing the borrower, said Business Inquirer.
Individuals on the contact list were allegedly approached as character references or co-borrowers on the loan. Some of the contacts were also asked to pay the debt.
Meanwhile, these companies also breached the privacy of their users, taking images of the borrowers via remote phone access on the camera.
In a statement, NPC Commissioner Raymund Liboro said the “business practice specifically targets the privacy of persons, practically making a profit out of people’s fear of losing face and dignity. These unethical practices simply have no place in a civilized society and must stop,” notes Rappler.
Furthermore, Libero believes their agency has a strong case against the three companies using this scheme. Should the respective officers be convicted, they are slated to go to jail for up to 7 years and will pay fines no more than 5 million pesos, as dictated by the Data Privacy Act of 2012.