7.29.2011

When a Checking Account Becomes a Test of Friendship or Kinship

By Nora
What do you when your close friend or relative asks you to lend him or her a check?


Before we can answer this checking account-related question, there are at least three meanings of this request:

Friend A: Makikigamit lang ng tseke (yong papel). Popondohan niya yong checking account, ibibigay sa iyo yong deposit slip showing nakadeposit na siya, ikaw ang pasusulatin ng amount at name sa check, bago kunin ng tseke. It could be that his/her own account was closed, that a new account is yet to be opened, and that he needs the check to pay something that can't be paid in cash.

Friend B: Makikigamit ng tseke at sabay utang pa. It could be that he needs to pay a monthly amortization of a car loan, housing loan, or motorcycle loan, and his/her checking has been closed, and worse, he/she doesn't have available money.

Friend C: Makikigamit ng tseke at uutusan ka pang umutang. It could be that your friend/relative knows you're buddy-buddy with a lender or a rich person in the neighborhood. She asks you to borrow money for her and promises you her life in the present, in the future and in the next life.

It's obvious na ang matinong friend dito ay si Friend A. Hindi ka niya inilalagay sa alanganin. There's no uncertainty. And if you're a friend, the answer is yes.

Kay Friend B, depende na sa ating tolerance sa risk. If he/she can't pay, would it be okay with us? Can we still feed our children and pay their tuition even if the friend doesn't pay? Okay lang ba kay misis o mister? I think if the request is from a sister, brother, parent,or child, kung nakakaluwag naman tayo, karamihan sa atin ay okay lang. Marami nga sa atin, may mga utang sa siblings, parents, pamangkins, aunts, or uncles. This is our tradition, our culture. But if we're in a situation where we are asked to lend the money budgeted for our children's food, rent, or tuition, then we have to harden our hearts and explain clearly our position to these borrowers.

Kay Friend C, ito ang masaklap. Masyadong risky ito. Since I started blogging, marami na akong stories na natatanggap related to this. On Pinoy forums, you read a lot of cases like this. Sila na yong tumulong, sila pa ang magiging respondents sa mga estafa at bouncing check cases, and worse, threats to life, all because of having friends who take advantage.

Here are some tips that can prevent problems related to checking accounts:

1. Don't let many people know that you have a checking account.
2. Don't let people know that you have lots of extra money. (This is for people na madaling lapitan. We know some people who have money, but we can't go near them.)
3. Don't let people know that you know lenders.
4. If you have to lend a check, never lend a blank check. Put asterisks before and after the amount. Lend only an amount that you are capable of giving away for free.
5. If you are offered a collateral -- for example, car papers or a real estate title -- don't be shy, accept it. Sila naman ang nag-o-offer.
6. Put your checkbook in a secure place.  
7. Don't get attracted to offers of high interest rates. Mag-promise nga sila ng 10 percent a month, kaya ba nila? Baka yong principal hindi pa nila mabayaran.
8. If there's no sensible or pressing reason to have a checking account, huwag na lang mag-checking account. Baka maging problema pa.

Here are some info about bouncing check and estafa laws related to checks:

Bouncing Check Law: To summarize the law (Batasang Pambansa Bilang 22 or BP 22), a person can be imprisoned for a period of 30 days to one year or can be fined by double the amount of the check, but not more than 200,000 pesos, if:
- he/she issues a check knowing that it is not funded
- and he/she issues a check knowing that he/she won't be able to fund the check
- and he/she doesn't fund the check after notification
- and the check was presented within 90 days from the date of check.

Estafa or Swindling refers to an act of fraud that causes damage to another person or entity. In relation to bouncing check, you commit estafa if you knowingly issue a check that will never be funded, that your payee trusted you because of your fraudulent act, and that your payee suffered damage because of your bounced check.

If all elements of estafa and bouncing check law are present in your case, you can be charged with two crimes: estafa and bouncing check.

Estafa is punishable by imprisonment and penalties, the length and amounts of which depend on the amounts of money involved.

There are many other acts that lead to the crime of estafa, such as those related to marriage, sale of real estate properties, swindling a minor, etc. Estafa in the Philippines is described in the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, Act No.315, December 1930, Book 2, Article 315(2)(a). 

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