Privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro said that the decrease started last October, or a month after the commission summoned officials of three online lending firms to explain the barrage of complaints filed against them by their borrowers, whom they publicly shamed online as pressure to pay off their delinquencies.
STAR/File
Complaints vs erring online lenders drop
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Privacy-related complaints against online lending firms have drastically declined a month after the prosecution by the National Privacy Commission (NPC) of three online lending firms alleged to have abused their control of their delinquent borrowers’ personal data.

Privacy commissioner Raymund Liboro said that the decrease started last October, or a month after the commission summoned officials of three online lending firms to explain the barrage of complaints filed against them by their borrowers, whom they publicly shamed online as pressure to pay off their delinquencies.

Available data gathered by the NPC from January to November showed there was a downward trend beginning October in the filing of formal complaints against lending firms that operate mobile apps which offer widely accessible microloans to borrowers online.

“Following months of grueling work, the commission is pleased to report a decline in the number of new formal complaints from borrowers involving the unauthorized use of their private personal information by online lenders,” NPC officer-in-charge and executive director Jose Belarmino II said.

“We are not letting up on the matter, and we continue to hold marathon hearings to resolve each filed complaint (at) the soonest time possible, given our resources. The decrease in new cases, however, is a welcome development. It is an indication that people are definitely becoming mindful about protecting personal data and upholding privacy rights,” Belarmino added.

The NPC said it had 23 formal complaints on record related to online lending in January 2019. The numbers continued a steady climb in the first quarter. After the agency went public on the issue in May, the numbers rose further, signaling that more victims were previously unaware they can seek the NPC’s assistance.

The number peaked to more than 300 new cases in September.

It was on the first week of that month that the NPC issued an Order on Fynamics Lending Inc., Unipeso Lending Co. and Fcash Global Lending Inc. The three were subject of a majority of the complaints from borrowers. 

Fynamics has formally answered the NPC’s order. Unipeso and Fcash, meanwhile, both filed motions to dismiss. All submissions are now under deliberation.

In September, the NPC also helped coordinate the creation of an industry-wide alliance of fin-tech organizations, together with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Trade and Industry.

Liboro said the NPC action on the privacy-related complaints against errant online lenders will be a showcase of how active regulation by a privacy body can highlight the importance of data protection and security in a world that is seeing most transactions, including commercial ones, going online and borderless during the 52nd Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities forum which opened yesterday morning in Cebu City.

NATIONAL PRIVACY COMMISSION NPC ONLINE LENDERS
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