Solon files bill penalizing ATM pawning

Published November 21, 2020, 12:45 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Manila Teachers partylist Rep. Virgilio Lacson has filed a bill penalizing the pawning of Automated Teller Machine cards.

Public school teachers and beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program who fell prey to unauthorized ATM card pawning scheme are expected to benefit from the measure.

Under House Bill No. 7966 or the proposed “Anti-ATM Pawning Scheme Act of 2020,” Lacson, the chairperson of the House Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development, wants to penalize the unauthorized claiming of another person’s benefit, wages, salaries, and remuneration. 

“This scheme has become so rampant that the public has grown used to it, and sees it as a regular occurrence, without realizing that many lenders take advantage of the borrower’s vulnerability,” Lacson said in the bill’s explanatory note. 

He noted that no less than the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has described the practice of “ATM Sangla scheme” as a dangerous scheme for it exposes borrowers to identify theft and unauthorized use of personal data possibly for unlawful activities. 

“It is high time that we put to a stop this form of unfair business practice by imposing penalties against those who engage in the same, and protect the public from these unscrupulous practices.”

Citing reports, Lacson laments that countless of public school teachers are forced to surrender their ATMs to money lenders as collateral.

He also described as “disturbing” the purported ongoing 4Ps “Sangla” scheme in which 4Ps beneficiaries pawn their cash cards as collateral for loan obligations from unregulated money lenders. “For instance, in Davao City alone, there are 186 reported cases for cash card pawning for the month of February 2019. Undoubtedly, there are still many unreported cases all over the country that go unnoticed.”

Lacson said his bill sees to promote the protection and welfare of beneficiaries, employees, and workers. 

Under HB 7966, the prohibited acts are:

— Claiming any government benefits from the ATM/cash card of a qualified beneficiary without the latter’s express authority stating cause why he or she cannot claim the benefit himself or herself;

— Withdrawing or causing the withdrawal of any amount from the ATM card of a worker, laborer, or employee, without the latter’s express authority stating cause why he or she cannot claim the salary or remuneration himself or herself; 

— Disposing, withholding, transferring, or otherwise possessing of the ATM/cash card necessary for the claim of a government benefit, to a person other than the intended government beneficiary; and

— Employing any unfair trade practice in lending, such as but not limited to misinterpretation, fake advertising, deceptive pricing, and non-accreditation with any government regulatory body. 

Violators of the proposed Act shall be penalized with six months to one-year imprisonment, and a fine amounting to P100,000. 

Under the measure, the issuing entity has the mandatory duty to issue replacement card and cause the cancellation of the surrendered cash card or ATM card, at any time upon the request of the depositor or account holder.