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Daily Digest | The slow creep of phantom debt

Written by The Uptake Published on     2 mins read

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Imagine the horror of having to pay off loans that you never took out.

Greetings. It’s Brady again.

An aspect of contemporary life is the acceptance that we have little control over the data handed over to any company that keeps tabs on what we buy, where we spend time, and how we interact with information online. Most of the time, this is benign—we see ads generated based on our web history, for instance. But the other end of the spectrum can be a nightmare.

Khamila, KrASIA’s senior reporter in Jakarta, spoke to people whose credit card applications were rejected because of what seemed to be inexplicable reasons. It turned out that their credit scores tanked because of unpaid bills—bills for services that they never asked for or utilized.

It didn’t take long to track down the likely culprit. These payments were “owed” to Traveloka PayLater, the operation of which is farmed out to a subcontractor called Caturnusa Sejahtera Finance.

Even though Traveloka wrote off the mysterious “debt” after the company received complaints and issued reference letters for the customers whose credit scores nosedived, questions remained: Who authorized the transactions? Why weren’t the users notified? Why weren’t there any follow-ups from Traveloka to collect the “debt”? And what measures does Traveloka have in place to safeguard their customers’ data?

More and more people are sharing the same experience, and it all traces back to Traveloka’s pay later service in Indonesia. The episodes date back to 2019, meaning users must navigate the consequences of having two years of “missed payments” on money they don’t actually owe. No wonder everyone is upset.

This isn’t an isolated incident. There is widespread failure to treat user data as the sensitive material that it is. Khamila has been following various data leaks in Indonesia that span the private and public sectors, the largest of which included the personal information of nearly every person in Indonesia, plus some who are deceased.

This is a topic that we take seriously at KrASIA. You can expect to see more coverage about the deficit of diligence in preserving and securing your personal data.

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