A bill to protect consumers from financial cybercrimes was introduced in the Senate plenum on Tuesday night, giving regulators more power to deal with such breaches.
Senate Bill 2488, or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act (FCPA) proposal, was sponsored by Senator Mary Grace Natividad S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the Banking, financial institutions and currencies.
“The rapid expansion of online financial systems – no doubt accelerated by the pandemic – has also become fertile ground for many fraudsters, hackers and unscrupulous individuals to scam people out of their money,” she said. during his sponsorship speech.
Under this measure, regulators will have the power to monitor the markets and require the submission of reports by the companies concerned, limit the levying of excessive or unreasonable fees by service providers, suspend the activity of any financial services provider and to issue cease and desist orders in certain circumstances.
They will also be given jurisdictional powers to order the reimbursement of funds lost within a certain threshold. “It would unclog court records and provide immediate relief to ordinary consumers who simply cannot afford to wait months to get their money back.”
In 2020 and 2021, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas received over 42,000 complaints through its consumer assistance mechanism. The total amounts involved in the 2021 complaints amounted to 540 million pesos, while the cumulative total between 2019 and 2021 was 2 billion pesos.
“Financial service providers are given a list of duties to their customers, such as determining appropriate financial products, reasonable pricing, providing a cooling-off period to give consumers enough time to think before purchase” , Ms. Poe said, “and the adoption of principles of disclosure, including the use of clear and concise language to ensure that the consumer understands the transaction.
The FCPA covers the full range of financial products and services offered by banks, insurance companies, investment advisers, certain cooperatives and other companies and financial institutions.
Penalties for offenders were set at five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of 2 million pesos. The financial regulator can also bring independent civil action on behalf of consumers to protect their rights and in the public interest.
“Through these interventions, we hope to build confidence in our financial system,” Poe said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan