Unfair collection practices
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.