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Online lender may have violated Data Privacy Act by ‘shaming’ borrower

An online lending mobile application in the country allegedly shamed a borrower after the latter failed to pay her balance within the set deadline, according to a report by Athena Imperial on GMA's 24 Oras Weekend on Sunday.

The borrower, "Maricel" (not her true name), said that she was enticed to borrow P10,000 in December 2018 by text messages she received offering the loans.

"Talagang nakaka-engganyo po kasi hindi lang naman isang number 'yung magte-text sa 'yo na you're qualified na mag-loan ng ganito," she said.

After agreeing to the terms of agreements—including granting the lending app full access to her mobile contact list—the money was smoothly remitted to her bank account in less than 30 minutes.

Unfortunately, Maricel was not able to pay her debt within the one-month deadline because of an unforeseen sickness in the family.

As a consequence, the people behind the online lending app supposedly called her contacts, including her employer, about her financial situation.

"Nabastusan po 'yung boss, 'yung amo ko kasi bakit nga raw po ganun sila makipag-usap," she said.

According to the National Privacy Commission (NPC), the online lending company may have violated the Data Privacy Act.

"Ito hong shaming 'no, 'yung paggamit ng personal na data ng mga tao at ipapahiya ho sila 'no, ang ating prinsipyong umiiral dito, kailangan malinaw ang dahilan ng kanilang pagpoproseso, meron ho silang legal at lehitimong kadahilanan upang kunin ang personal na datos ng tao," Privacy Commissioner Raymund Liboro said.

The NPC continues to investigate online lending companies facing similar complaints from borrowers.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for its part, reminded the public to be very careful in using such online lending apps.

The corporate name and SEC registration should be verified and details such as interests, penalties, and other charges must be considered before entering a transaction. — Dona Magsino/BM/KG, GMA News