‘Maging mapanuri’: PNP’s preventive tips vs illegal lending apps amid harassment reports

May 19, 2023 - 4:21 PM
Money lending app
In this photo, a man uses a smartphone to apply for an online loan. (Flickr/Image Genie)

The police’s anti-cybercrime group issued tips on how to avoid getting victimized by fake online lending applications following incidents of harassment involving some lending companies.

Eight lending agents in Pasig City were arrested this week after their office was raided by members of the Philippine National Police-Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) and the Security Exchange Commission (SEC).

The raid was conducted after a police officer reported that his wife was allegedly harassed by the lending company called Realm Shifters BPO Services. Fifty-seven employees were also found in the office during the operations.

Reported acts of harassment include sending clients death threats via text messages and posing as scammers online.

Following the raid, the PNP-ACG uploaded on Facebook different preventive tips against illegal lending apps.

In the post, the PNP-ACG advised individuals to determine if the lending platform is registered with the SEC before downloading it.

If the platform is not registered, the unit urged the public to block and report it to the authorities.

The following are the rest of the tips from the PNP-ACG’s post:

  • Basahin at intindihin ng mabuti ang nakapaloob sa Terms and Conditions ng app.
  • Mas maigi na lagyan ng watermark (pangalan ng kompanya) ang mga IDs na sinusumite para hindi magamit sa mga hindi awtorisadong transaksyon.
  • Huwag basta-basta makipag-transact sa mga nakikilala lang sa social media na diumano’s staff ng lending company.
  • Suriing mabuti ang account kung saan dapat magbabayad ng inyong utang.
  • Huwag magbabayad ng processing fee dahil isa itong scam.

The PNP-ACG and SEC identified three lending platforms that Realm Shifters BPO Services is running. These are:

  • Loanmoto
  • Lalapeso
  • WeLoan

The police urged victims of these platforms to file complaints by messaging the PNP-ACG’s social media accounts or calling its hotline numbers.

On harassing clients

In an interview with Frontline Pilipinas on May 16, Oliver Leonardo, director for enforcement and investor protection of the SEC, pointed out that harassing clients is against the law.

“Bawal po ang mapang-abusong pamamaraan ng pangongolekta, yung pagsasagawa ng mga threats, physical or even death threats,” Leonardo said.

He also explained that the nominal interest should not exceed 5% in a month.

“Hindi na dapat lumampas dun,” the executive stressed.

In a GMA report, it was stated that Realm Shifters BPO Services employees are implementing high interest rates to their clients who were mostly individuals without enough credentials for bank loans.

Incidents of this modus of some lending agencies have been the subject of headlines in recent years.

Last year, 83 lending employees were arrested after they were caught in a raid sending threats to clients who supposedly fail to pay their debts on time.

This operation was conducted after cops received numerous complaints online about Filipinos being allegedly humiliated and threatened by these employees.

In 2021, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) also ordered the shutdown of the following four lending apps due to violations of privacy laws of their users:

  • JuanHand
  • Pespop
  • CashJeep
  • Lemon Loan

NPC said that these apps and their operators have violated data privacy laws and were also shaming their borrowers.

READ: Shutdown: 4 loan apps accessed Filipino borrowers’ pics, email, social media