Privacy Invasion; CBN, EFCC, FCCPC, To Probe, Prosecute Online Money Lender

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THE Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC),  the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and other sister agencies have promised to start investigating the illegal and unwholesome practices of some digital money lenders in the country.

Babatunde Irukera, the Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC speaking on behalf of the joint regulatory and enforcement committee of the agencies involved In the investigations in a statement dated November 15, said the collaborative investigation was to ensure an already established stipulation is enforced both against the already known violators and others who may do same to commence criminal prosecutions where necessary.

He noted that the sharp practices of some of the money lenders are becoming unbearable, domineering, and abusive, this he stated is especially targeted at the most vulnerable Nigerians.

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He stated further that, the agency has received enormous complaints from the public, which range from public shaming to violations of privacy, this, he noted has resulted in notable and understandable consumer aggravation and dissatisfaction.

Other consumer right violation includes incessant, unfair, unreasonable, or exploitative interest rates on loan, unimaginable loan balances calculations, harassment, and failure of consumer feedback mechanisms, among others, which have had aggravating effects on consumers.

Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) are other agencies involved in the investigation.

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He said the committee would lead efforts to address multiple potentially dubious conduct of some money lenders, also known as loan sharks.

It should be recalled that in August, NITDA had fined Soko Lending Company the sum of N10 million for sending threatening messages to borrowers, which was a privacy invasion.

A report compiled by The ICIR which was corroborated by Irukera had earlier revealed that some of these online lending companies in the country were not licensed by the appropriate authorities to engage in the services they are providing.

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He Stated that “A joint task force of analysts and enforcers has been created and activated.

He stated further that a dedicated email address has been provided to receive public complaints. He noted that the commission is not against any organization that chooses to provide financial services to Nigerians who may not be eligible to access such service from the conventional banking sector, but that it frowns at exploitative and unwholesome practices.

The e-mail address is lenderstaskforce@fccpc.gov.ng.

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