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2019-08-19 11:07:30

A bank in the eastern province of Jiangxi has come under fire for publishing the personal information of over 100 young people who deferred payment on their student loans, the Xiaoxiang Morning Herald reported Saturday.

Pingxiang Rural Commercial Bank revealed the names of 141 graduates along with their personal details — including their names, home addresses, college affiliations, and loan amounts — on its official WeChat social media account to encourage them to repay their debts, according to the news report. A screenshot of the post, published Wednesday but later deleted, showed that the repayment amounts ranged from 3.47 yuan to 11,890.96 yuan ($0.50 to $1,690), with most falling under 1,000 yuan.

“If you know anyone from this list, remind them to repay their debts as soon as possible,” text accompanying the list read.

The disclosure of personal information online has triggered public backlash, with many accusing the bank of violating its customers’ privacy. However, naming and shaming debtors is relatively common, through it’s generally done through official channels. Courts have displayed debtors’ names, photos, and personal information on highway billboards, added audio messages revealing their financial troubles to anyone who would call them, and shown their details before major movie screenings at theaters.

A clerk from Pingxiang told Xiaoxiang Morning Herald that the bank had asked permission from the local education bureau before publishing the list and said that many students had since paid their dues. However, the clerk added that they were “unsure” if the bank had violated any laws by publicly revealing the students’ information.

“We couldn’t reach these students,” the clerk said. “We wouldn’t have done this if there had been an alternative.”

According to a regulation jointly published by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, People’s Bank of China, and China Securities Regulatory Commission, banks are required to submit the names of students who have deferred their loans for more than a year to the National Center for Student Financial Aid. However, the regulation doesn’t grant financial institutions the authority to publish such lists publicly.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Image: Ingram/VCG)