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Money Lending Apps in the Philippines Are Publicly Shaming People Who Don’t Pay on Time

These apps are using personal information as collateral.

by Lex Celera
24 May 2019, 4:25am

Photos via Pixabay

In the Philippines, money lending apps have found a unique and screwed up way to collect debt. The apps shame late debtors by threatening and sending demeaning messages to people in their contact list.

Philippine National Privacy Commission chairperson Raymund Liboro said in a press conference that they have received 485 complaints from people who have been lent money from online lending apps.

When downloading the app, users are asked to allow the app to access their contact list and location among others, which the app accesses if the person fails to pay on time. According to a news report, the app has messaged the contact list of the user one by one with shameful messages, “hacked” the person’s Facebook, and threatened the debtor that it would report them to the police.

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A screenshot from a local news report shows one of the text complaints to the National Privacy Commission. The debtor claims their phonebook was hacked and messages were sent to their coworkers aimed to humiliate the debtor. Screenshot from TV Patrol report/YouTube

Liboro said personal information cannot be used as collateral for paying a loan. "Just because the person hasn’t paid their debts doesn’t mean you’re free to do anything, such as ruin their dignity," Liboro said in Filipino in a radio interview.

The money lending apps could be charged for violating the Philippine Data Privacy Act for unauthorized processing and unauthorized purpose of information, and malicious disclosure. Violators could face six months to three years imprisonment, plus fines. The damages can be awarded to the complainant.

Data from a web analytics company shows that money lending apps are popular with Filipinos. Online money lending apps, while they tend to lend quicker, are riskier than acquiring a loan from a bank. Banks allow borrowers to pay for around a year, while online lending apps only allow users to pay between a few weeks to a couple of months, with higher interest rates.

Exceed your deadline though, and you may have to add your reputation and your dignity to that cash payment.

This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.