Gatchalian seeks probe vs loan sharks, other online lending scams

Published May 30, 2021, 11:16 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Sunday said he will seek an inquiry into the proliferation of loan sharks and other online lending schemes of some companies, especially those that are not under the supervision of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Gatchalian said the BSP should advise the public not to transact with unlicensed lenders. These types of predatory lending should stop, the senator said.

“Dahil sa marahas na pamamaraan nila ng paniningil, may mga biktimang nabalitang nag-suicide at marami na rin umano ang nakararanas ng death threats (Because of the harsh way they collect payment, we have victims who reportedly resort to suicide and there are some who even experience death threats),” the senator said.

“Magsilbing aral din sana ito sa mga naghahanap ng mapag-uutangan nang mabilis. Dapat marunong silang kumilatis kung kaduda-duda ang pamamaraan ng pagpapautang ng isang kumpanya (This should also serve as a lesson for those who are looking for quick cash loans. They should also learn how to examine questionable loan practices of a company),” he said.

Gatchalian, vice chairof the Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, noted that emergency online cash loan have become prevalent during this COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, his office has continued to receive complaints from victims of online lending companies and lending apps—majority of them claiming to have suffered various forms of grave threats, intimidation, and public-shaming from debt collectors.

In December last year, the SEC revoked the certificate of authority of online firm Super Cash Lending Corp. after it was found to have engaged in unfair debt collection practices.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) last February also recommended the prosecution of Fynamics Lending Inc., the operator of the PondoPeso online lending app for harassing and public-shaming delinquent borrowers and violating the Data Privacy Law.

Gatchalian has earlier sought the enactment of the proposed Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The measure, Senate Bill No. 1366 prohibits debt collectors from harassing or threatening the debtor and his or her family with death or physical injuries, inflict harm on the debtor’s reputation or give misleading claims that non-payment of debt will result to arrest, imprisonment, garnishment or sale of any property.

The bill also bars creditors and debt collectors from accessing personal information of the debtor without the consent of the other party.

The measure also proposes a maximum penalty of P30,000 as redress, aside from any actual damage sustained by the borrower.