Senate approves bill protecting credit card holders from excessive charges, harassment

By on February 1, 2016

Oliver Hoffmann / Shutterstock
Oliver Hoffmann / Shutterstock

MANILA—Voting 16-0, the Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading a bill regulating the Philippine credit card industry by granting the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) supervisory powers over all credit card issuers, acquirers, and transactions.

Sen. Sergio Osmeña, sponsor of House Bill No. 5417, said the proposed measure aims to protect the rights and interests of credit card holders against excessive charges and harassment from collection agents.

According to Osmeña, BSP data showed that consumer complaints against credit cards companies had increased over the years. These include excessive charges, unauthorized fees, undisclosed charges, unfair collection and harassment practices by credit card collection agents.

Osmeña, chairman of the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies, said credit card industry records showed that the number of active credit cards grew by 25.5 percent, from 6.584 million credit cards in 2009 to 8.268 million in 2014.

Aside from granting the BSP supervisory powers, House Bill No. 5417 or the proposed Philippine Credit Card Industry Regulation Law, mandates information confidentiality, and requires credit card issuers to establish a Consumer Assistance Unit within its organization. Furthermore, it defines “appropriate collection practices” and holds the credit card issuer responsible for all the actions of its collection agents.

Under the proposed measure, if the due date for a credit card falls on a weekend or a regular national holiday, the card payment due date is automatically moved to the next business day.

Violations of any provisions of the proposed Philippine Credit Card Industry Regulation Law will be imprisonment of two to 10 years or a fine of Php50,000 to Php200,000, or both, at the discretion of the court.