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Opinion

Relentless digital harassment

The modus operandi of Qiantang is nothing new, using the same technology and the same scheme to harass clients by tapping the content of their phones.

Paolo Capino

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The harassment by money lenders will never stop for as long as software and apps allow companies to steal the phonebooks of their clients (and eventually victims).

An actress posted on her Facebook page her bad experience with these unscrupulous money lending firms. In Joyce Burton Titular’s post last 26 February, she sought help on where she could report the lending company who sent her the following text message.

The message to Titular was: “Good Day! This is from Qiantang Philippines. Regarding (Name crossed out), are you still connected with (Name omitted)? Please tell (Name omitted) to contact me on Globe: 09454459771 and Smart: 09208252000. (He) left a debt here and you are listed as one of those who would pay on her behalf. Thank you!”

I remember my own experience which led me to write about these scams being perpetrated by some digital lending companies. I received a call last year asking if I knew their client who allegedly listed me as co-maker.

I told them that I didn’t sign anything and didn’t agree with their arrangement. The caller then made several excuses on how they acquired my number.

It was infuriating but I felt sorry for the person who borrowed money from the firm and did not deserve to be embarrassed by contacting the numbers listed on her mobile phone.

There were reports that some of the victims committed suicide because the aggressiveness of these companies in collecting resulted in loss of employment and in conflicts among friends and family members.

My theory is that the firms on which the National Privacy Commission blew the whistle, leading to raids by the police, either shut down or merely changed their names to be able to operate again.

The modus operandi of Qiantang is nothing new, using the same technology and the same scheme to harass clients by tapping the content of their phones.

Republic Act 10175 explicitly states in Chapter 2, Section 4 that this kind of illegal access to devices is a cybercrime offense. It is an offense against the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of computer data and systems.

The victims are clueless that by providing the lending companies their mobile details, they are able to retrieve information that allow said unscrupulous firms to communicate with their contacts.

What happened to the firms that were given warnings? Are government agencies and law enforcement officers still paying attention to them? Or are they still inutile?

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