Joint press statement of the National Privacy Commission, Fintech Alliance.PH, Philippine Finance Association, and the non-bank financing sector against illegal practices of online lending apps

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) is ardent in promoting the ethical and responsible treatment of the citizens’ personal data. We, along with the Philippine Finance Association members, the Fintech members, and the non-bank financing institutions, strongly condemn the practice of some online lending platforms in harvesting excessive information without legitimate purpose through the use of unreasonable and unnecessary apps permissions including saving and storing their clients’ contact list and photo gallery ostensibly to evaluate their creditworthiness. Such practice is unnecessary because an applicant’s creditworthiness may be determined through other lawful and reasonable means.

We likewise reiterate our appeal to non-compliant operators of online lending apps to refrain from exploiting borrowers by using the borrowers’ personal data to shame and coerce them into paying their loans through unauthorized and unfair use of their personal data. Now more than ever, business operators must act with consideration and a strong moral code as the whole world struggles with the exhaustive toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. We remind concerned digital lending players to strictly adhere to the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics as well as the Code of Collection Standards and Ethics that the FinTech and the Philippine Finance Association have established and standardized in the industry to ensure strict compliance while promoting consumer protection.

Entities are obligated to comply with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 and related laws when processing the personal data of data subjects. Reference may also be made to NPC Circular 20-01 which provides guidelines for processing personal data for loan-related transactions.

We call on these non-compliant lending entities to use lawful and reasonable methods in evaluating loan applicants' creditworthiness as well as in debt collection practices by upholding data subject rights without resorting to unfair debt collection practices and harassment of borrowers such as the use of insults or profane language, violent threats or false representation and unnecessarily exposing their borrowers’ personal data to unauthorized persons.

Lending companies must bear in mind that they are always accountable for the personal data under their control or custody. Thus, they are obliged to adopt and implement reasonable policies in handling the personal data of borrowers