DOJ emphasizes: cyber-harassment, ‘debt shame’ of online debtors is illegal
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has stressed that harassing people who have taken out a loan from lenders online – such as posting sensitive debtor details and humiliating them online – is an illegal act that can be punished under current law.
The DOJ released a list of things that constitute cyber-harassment of debtors on Wednesday, after saying its Cybercrime Office (OOC) had received numerous reports of online lenders doing unfair debt collection and a disgrace to debt online.
According to the DOJ, the following actions may be prosecutable under Republic Law No.10175 or Cybercrime Prevention Law 2012, RA Law No.10173, or Protection Law. of 2012 data, revised penal code in relation to article 6 of RA no.10175, and circular no.18 of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), series of 2019:
- Access the telephone directory / contact list of debtors in order to send them messages in the event of delay and / or non-payment;
- Post online personal and sensitive information of debtors in order to shame them;
- Threatening debtors with death and physical injury if they do not pay their account balances;
- Using foul language through text messages sent directly to debtors and debtors’ references in an attempt to shame them.
“Due to the growing number of reports received and approved by the [DOJ] – [OOC] involving unfair debt collection practices and cyber-harassment by online loan companies (OLCs), the DOJ-OOC issued a public notice dated April 23, 2021 listing the acts that could qualify as unfair debt collection practices. debt collection and cyber-harassment, as well as corresponding violations which victims can file before the relevant government agencies, ”the DOJ said Wednesday.
LILY: DOJ: Online shame of delinquent borrowers is a crime
The shame of online debt and other forms of cyber-harassment of debtors are not new; in 2019, reports from the Philippine Daily Inquirer found that several users of online lending programs, usually short-term or payday borrowing methods, were shamed by lenders in various ways.
In said report, the lender’s longtime friend received a notification from the company that he could not pay off a small loan – although the lender did not give the loan company contact details.
As it turned out, the company was exploiting his contact details to shame him, forcing him to pay immediately rather than risking being ashamed again.
This has led to various organizations pushing for criminal charges against online lenders who harassed and humiliated borrowers who failed to pay off their loans immediately.
According to the DOJ, people who have experienced any of the above incidents of harassment and shame can file complaints with the National Privacy Commission, especially if the breach focuses on confidentiality. Datas.
Other complaints relating to the Cybercrime Prevention Act may be submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation, the local prosecutor’s office or the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Unit, and to the SEC if the offender is an offender. registered online loan company.
“To combat or prevent the commission of unfair debt collection practices and cyber-harassment, the DOJ-OOC also encourages the public to report erroneous OLCs to the NBI-CCD, PNP-ACG, NPC and SEC” , added the DOJ.
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