Card concerns dominate consumer issues raised to BSP

CONSUMERS RAISED concerns mostly related to credit card issues and the loan holiday last year, with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) also observing a spike in financial crimes.

“Through the regular consumer assistance mechanism and BOB (BSP Online Buddy), the BSP processed approximately 23,000 concerns from the public as of the last quarter of 2020,” BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said in a briefing.

“Of this, 25% pertained to credit cards, an estimated 12% of total complaints were related to the implementation of the mandatory loan grace period for loans and credit card products under the Bayanihan I and II,” Mr. Diokno added.

Republic Act No. 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act provided for a 30-day loan holiday. This was followed by a 60-day grace period for loans due until December under Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Mr. Diokno said they have referred complaints to senior management of concerned banks so these cases could be addressed appropriately.

“Consumers were also advised by BSP to directly coordinate with their banks, which helped in coming up with restructuring or repayment schemes acceptable to both parties,” Mr. Diokno said, noting concerned lenders attended to these complaints on a case-to-case basis.

In 2020, top concerns related to credit cards were about fees and charges. In 2019, the primary issue consumers raised regarding credit cards was about disputed transactions.

Mr. Diokno said they also monitored a “spike in financial crimes” since the lockdown in March, which involved other transactions aside from credit cards.

“The most common type of fraudulent schemes involving credit cards are the following unauthorized or disputed transactions due to disclosure of personal information and phishing e-mails, and breach of personal account information to use of OTP (one-time pin) by a person [falsely] representing a bank employee,” he said, citing data from the BSP Consumer Protection and Market Conduct Office.

Mr. Diokno said collective vigilance from the BSP, financial institutions and consumers will be needed to battle fraud amid the heightened use and accessibility of digital financial products due to the coronavirus pandemic. — L.W.T. Noble

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