Express press service
PUDUCHERRY: There has been a surge in complaints against instant loan apps that charge high interest rates, extort consumers and misuse their data. The Pondicherry Police Cyber Cell has received 20 complaints in the past six months.
Based on the complaints, the cybercell registered an FIR under sections 66(E), 67 and 67(A) of the Information Technology Act 2000 and 420 of the IPC against lending applications on Google Play on July 9.
SP (Cyber Cell) Shubham Ghosh said The new Indian Express that the cybercell shortlisted 63 of these applications after complaints of harassment and threats made by loan collectors and investigators. These apps are not listed as valid and legal by the RBI.
Most of the complainants are students, housewives and small traders. These apps lure customers by giving instant loans without asking for any procedure unlike banks, said Inspector Manoj, the investigator.
By granting loans, the application has access to the PAN card, bank account number, Aadhar, contacts and profiles of the client. They give part of the requested loan and then start to extort money from the borrower under the guise of interest and other charges.
A battery shop owner who borrowed Rs 4,000 ended up paying Rs 40,000, while another man who borrowed Rs 10,000 has so far paid Rs 80,000, Manoj said. Even then, there is no relief as the demand for payment continues. If the client refuses, he is blackmailed. Obscene messages and offensive processed images with a person of the opposite sex are sent to people on the customer’s contact list, Manoj added.
Women who have borrowed a few thousand rupees find themselves in a soup after such metamorphosed images are sent to their husbands. We had to call their husbands and explain the situation to them, he added.
A student of BSc Forensic Science at Aarupadai Veedu Medical College, in his complaint said that he took loans from several applications amounting to Rs 70,000. Even after he repaid the loan with interest, officers called him to extort more. When he did not respond, they without permission accessed photos from his cell phone gallery, transformed them with sexual images and sent them to his contacts.
India has witnessed the emergence of instant loan providers through smartphone-enabled fintech lending companies. Maharashtra Police Cybercrime Team recently wrote to Google Play Store asking to remove 69 loan apps after receiving hundreds of complaints of harassment and threats made by fraudulent loan collectors. “We are investigating complaints and will take appropriate action,” Ghosh said.