BSP pushes bill to protect consumers vs harassment, threats from credit collectors

Published by rudy Date posted on September 6, 2021

by Daxim L. Lucas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 6 Sep 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The proposed Financial Consumer Protection Act now pending in Congress will help protect Filipinos from unfair collection practices employed by credit card firms like threats and harassment, the central bank said on Monday (Sept. 6).

The proposed law also offers better protection against online fraud to consumers, according to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno.

“This legislative initiative has far-reaching benefits to consumers especially amid the rise in digital transactions,” the BSP chief said in a statement. “The proposed reforms in the financial sector will enhance the authority of regulators and ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place to safeguard the interest of financial consumers.”

Under the proposed consumer protection law—which is pending Senate deliberation in the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions, and Currencies—financial regulators may issue a cease-and-desist order without the need for prior hearing in cases of unfair collection practices deemed as threats or harassment against a financial consumer.

Similarly, consumers no longer need to go to court if their claim involves a return of money from a financial service provider. This translates to a prompt and more efficient process when consumers seek reparation in financial transactions, as warranted by financial regulators.

In cases of undispensed ATM withdrawals, both the depository bank and bank operating the ATM may be liable to cardholders. However, when neither is willing to settle a customer’s claim, a consumer may go through the adjudication process and file a claim directly with the BSP.

In addition, financial service providers that are found responsible for credit card fraud in online shopping may be subject to sanctions. These include fines, suspension, or penalties.

Diokno stressed that consumer protection is a shared responsibility among regulators, consumers and other stakeholders.

“Consumer welfare is a continuing agenda of the BSP,” he said. “We enjoin financial institutions, bank organizations, and relevant partners and stakeholders to push consumer protection initiatives forward as the responsibility is too great for any entity to take on singly.”

The BSP remains committed in promoting financial stability and consumer protection by advocating the passage of the Financial Consumer Protection Act through active participation in committee hearings and coordination with the Senate, he explained.

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