Senator Grace Poe said debt collectors that engage in unfair collection practices must be punished to put an end to their prevalent abusive behavior and protect consumers.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 655 that directs the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies to look into the implementation of Republic Act 10870 or the Philippine Credit Card Industry Regulation Act, Poe said her office recently received complaints that collecting agencies “continue to harass borrowers in a threatening and offensive move to collect money” on behalf of issuing banks despite the recent passage of the law.
“The lack of clear guidelines and dedicated implementation of existing laws and regulations that would punish debt collectors gives them a wide latitude to harass, bombard borrowers with calls and text messages bordering on criminal acts, and engage in other unfair collection practices,” the legislator said.
Consumers who make purchases using their “plastic money” but soon find themselves debt-saddled are often hounded by debt collectors.
The lawmaker emphasized that debtors should pay their outstanding debts but denounced abusive collectors that use the poor financial standing of credit card holders as a license to harass, resort to name-calling, and threaten consumers with delinquent accounts to compel them to pay.
“For many years, credit card debt collectors put pressure and use crooked ploys on the defaulter to collect money,” said the lady senator.
Poe enumerated the “most notorious” and “crooked” ways of collecting money such as threatening the debtor that a case has already been filed in court and that the same was being handled by a supposed law firm, using barangay (village) tanod and men in uniform to force the borrower to pay, and entering the cardholder’s house in the guise of delivering a package but will soon tell the cardholder that they will garnish the property in exchange of the outstanding debt.
Other “dirty tactics” also include someone calling the debtor’s employer with the intent to smear the reputation of the defaulter, which, in some cases, lead to firing of the employee, bombarding the debtor with text messages that there is an alleged warrant of arrest due to the unpaid account, and telling the cardholder that there is a hold departure order issued.
She said these illegal practices must be stopped to protect consumers from emotional and mental attacks and sleepless nights. Poe said debtors often do not complain about the harassment they receive for fear of reprisal or humiliation over their unpaid obligations.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas should immediately issue the necessary guidelines that would govern credit card companies and debt collectors as to what constitutes criminal acts punishable under existing laws and policies.
“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas should immediately issue the necessary guidelines that would govern credit card companies and debt collectors as to what constitutes criminal acts punishable under existing laws and policies,” she added.