Why is Microlender Collecting Russian Debtors’ Personal Data?

Why is Microlender Collecting Russian Debtors’ Personal Data?

Debtprice, a new player that has emerged on the Russian debt market would hardly deserve attention but for its aggressive strategy. Its dedicated website, debtprice.market, says that no commission is charged for services provided to debt sellers or buyers.

Other microlenders are poised to take advantage of this unparalleled generosity. Rumor has it Debtprice owners made an offer to bankers, also promising to sell defaulting loans of clients for free. So, what’s the catch?

The Internet knows all

Debtprice.market belongs to a Pereslavl-Zalessky-based firm. According to the documents, its sole owners are Elena Vinogradova and Konstantin Vinogradov. By the way, Mr. Vinogradov is also the founder of Gorzaim which has no employees. The authorized capital of the new debt trader is 10,000 rubles ($136.20.) The company has had the status of micro-enterprise since 2020.

The financial statements until 2019 showed no business activity. Consequently, the firm paid no taxes. In 2020 however, Debtprice reported an annual profit of 184,000 rubles ($2,506.08) for the first time. That is a little over 15,000 rubles ($204.30) per month. Let's leave aside, for now, the question of how the Vinogradovs manage to survive on this money. Probably, they partly worked off the books, or the profitability of the firm (both real and declared) is not their main goal.

Let’s get back to the matter. It turned out that this micro-enterprise is a debtor and that a judgment was sent to bailiffs. Incidentally, Debtprice has had several enforcement proceedings within its short lifespan.

Perhaps, someone might want to look into the new trader’s books. Let's try to understand how the Vinogradovs run the debt business, and, most importantly, why they are in it.

All freebies

As of the end of May, debtprice.market offered seven lots for sale, all placed by microfinance organizations. But if the firm charges no commission, what does it profit from? You are about to find out.

They say there is no such thing as a free lunch. Some debt owners apparently have forgotten this simple truth.

The most important thing to know about deptprice.market is that this company is not a personal data processor. This means that Debtprice is not responsible for any data posted by sellers and has no obligation to protect it. You can go to the Roskomnadzor website to check this information.

In other words, the debtors' personal data, including full name, residential address, contact phone numbers, amount of debt, date of last payment, and a lot of other details, might leak easily. It can be sold to other debt collectors. It might become publicly available or sold abroad. It might be used by criminals and fake collectors. Options abound, you name it. The worst thing is that there is nobody to file a claim against. If a company is not a registered personal data operator, it is not obligated to protect this data and will not be held liable for any leaks.

To summarize, a certain micro-enterprise whose balance sheet showed zeros from 2014 to 2019 (apparently, a shelf company), started selling defaulted debts. It does not charge money for its services. It is unclear where it draws its monthly income of 15,000 rubles from, which slightly exceeds the subsistence level in the Yaroslavl region. This is, so to speak, the official side of the question.

What is the catch?

The unofficial side is that the adventurous spouses or namesakes are mainly interested in the access to debt registers, debtors’ personal data and the internal documentation of credit organizations. Why charge a commission if you can earn a fortune by reselling this information? Especially since there is no limit to your transactions.

Under another possible scenario, this shelf company might have been hired (or simply activated) by someone to collect data. Someone who has no business at all in selling debts but who is very interested in debt registry data.

Today, any information is valuable. It is the core of big data. In fact, data protection is the protection of the most important thing we have in the digital age, i.e. massive data that can be analyzed and used in our work. The personal data of millions of Russian debtors collected by a micro-enterprise, based in a small town, might be easily passed along to anybody. It suggests a future pattern where small shell companies that have no assets, will be sucking valuable data out of large corporations like a vacuum cleaner, with impunity. One can blame security departments and managers who did not take sufficient care. But in fact, we can only blame ourselves and our own inattention.

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