May 9

Protection of personal data on the sale of receivables to companies for debt collection

  In recent years, extreme massiveness acquired a relatively new phenomenon in the Bulgarian reality – the so called "handing over" of debtors of suppliers of various welfare and financial services to the so called collector companies or companies for collection of debts.

  Common examples from our daily lives are cases such as those in which you are indebted to a company for consumer loans, a mobile operator, etc., you are late with or have ceased the payment of your obligations to them and unexpectedly begin to receive phone calls or other "reminders" from an unfamiliar to you collecting company, stating that you are already indebted to it and persistently, often accompanied by open threats, inviting you to pay your debts.

  What actually happens is that the majority of businesses operating on our territory, generating a large number of debtors through the wide-spread culture of consumerism, are often deprived of the capacity to seek claims from their defaulting debtors or simply assess that this would impede their pursuit of ever greater profits, at which point these businesses sell whole packages of its claims to the so-called collector companies. Thus, despite in a much smaller amount, they quickly realize their expected income, while the respective collector firm "starts out" with the defaulting debtors, often crossiing the line of good manners and the law.

  What, however, our native business deliberately omits while conducting those profitable business operations, it grossly violates our law and the fundamental rights of citizens. Protection of personal data of individuals results from the constitutional right of citizens of privacy and has its legislative provision in the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Therein stated lies the obligation of personal data administrators, such as all companies selling their receivables from individuals, to explicitly inform their client individuals for the type of third parties to whom they could disclose their personal data and purpose of this disclosure. Apart from that, the client individual has the right to be informed each time before his/her personal data is disclosed for the first time to third parties or used on their behalf for advertising purposes and to be given the opportunity to object to such disclosure or use. Any company that does not fulfill this obligation before selling its receivables to a collector agency, commits a gross violation of the PDPA, leading to an administrative sanction on its behalf. In addition, any person who believes that he/she has suffered distress and anxiety as a result of the unexpected calls from the collector agency has every right to seek financial compensation from the creditor company having sold its receivables for moral damages.

  Along with the explanations in the previous paragraph the affected individuals from the arbitrariness of our native monopolists and companies for collection of debts should be informed of the fact that the Obligations and Contracts Act (OCA) the cession could not be opposed to the debtor before he/she has been therefore informed by the cedant. Translated into plain language this means that the individual debtor is not liable to the collector agency until he/she has been duly informed by the company having sold its receivables for the sale of receivables.

  In conclusion, though seemingly powerless against the iniquities of the business, individual consumers also have their rights and means of objection and defense, which they could use and defend either on their own or with professional help.