Un­fair col­lec­tion prac­tices

Cebu Daily News - - OPINION - EFREN Ll. CRUZ efren@per­son­al­fi­nance.ph

Ques­tion: Credit card debt col­lec­tors have lately been very rude and down­right dis­re­spect­ful in col­lect­ing on my past dues. I have ex­plained to them that I have no in­ten­tion of run­ning away from my obli­ga­tions and that I just fell into hard times, hence my de­layed pay­ments. How do I know if these debt col­lec­tors are al­ready tram­pling on my rights? Asked at “Ask a Friend, Ask Efren” free ser­vice through www.per­son­al­fi­nance.ph, Face­book, and SMS.

An­swer: Ac­cord­ing to the Bangko Sen­tra ng Pilip­inas (BSP), the fol­low­ing are con­sid­ered un­fair credit card debt col­lec­tion prac­tices: (copied ver­ba­tim from www.bsp.gov.ph)

The use or threat of vi­o­lence or other crim­i­nal means to harm the physical per­son, rep­u­ta­tion, or prop­erty of any per­son;

The use of ob­scen­i­ties, in­sults, or pro­fane lan­guage which amount to a crim­i­nal act or of­fense un­der ap­pli­ca­ble laws;

Dis­clo­sure of the names of credit card­hold­ers who al­legedly refuse to pay debts; Threat to take any ac­tion that can­not legally be taken; Com­mu­ni­cat­ing or threat to com­mu­ni­cate to any per­son credit in­for­ma­tion which is known to be false, in­clud­ing fail­ure to com­mu­ni­cate that a debt is be­ing dis­puted;

Any false rep­re­sen­ta­tion or de­cep­tive means to col­lect or at­tempt to col­lect any debt or to ob­tain in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing a card­holder; and

Mak­ing con­tact at un­rea­son­able/in­con­ve­nient times or hours which shall be de­fined as con­tact be­fore 6:00 A.M. or after 10:00 P.M., un­less the ac­count is past due for more than sixty (60) days or the card­holder has given ex­press per­mis­sion or said times are the only rea­son­able or con­ve­nient op­por­tu­ni­ties for con­tact.

If col­lec­tion agen­cies per­sist in fol­low­ing any of the above prac­tices, you may re­port them to the FCPD (Fi­nan­cial Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion De­part­ment) of the BSP. The FCPD’s con­tact de­tails are (02) 708-7087 and con­sumer­af­fairs@bsp.gov.ph.

The FCPD is ef­fec­tive. Clients of ours who have re­ported to the FCPD the un­fair prac­tices of cer­tain col­lec­tion agen­cies have got­ten great re­sults from such agen­cies be­com­ing more friendly to credit card com­pa­nies dis­en­gag­ing with agen­cies that are guilty of such un­fair prac­tices.

While the FCPD will as­sist ag­grieved bor­row­ers, it will also try to bal­ance the in­ter­ests of cred­i­tors and bor­row­ers. In fact, the FCPD ac­knowl­edges that with some com­plaints, the bor­rower and lender may not be able to reach a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able so­lu­tion and that le­gal in­ter­ven­tion at the proper fo­rum may be re­quired.

That is why bor­row­ers should al­ways strive to meet their fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions to the best of their abil­i­ties and use the FCPD only as one of the last re­sorts. Bor­row­ers should also ac­knowl­edge that the money lent them came from the hard-earned money of de­pos­i­tors and credit card com­pany share­hold­ers as well.

As the say­ing goes, an ounce of pre­ven­tion is worth more than a pound of cure.

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