Beware of online loan apps and their payback methods, cops say

Short term loans from mobile apps might sound attractive and really useful, but they are also dangerous and ruthless when it comes to recovering. Fintech apps, which offer quick loans, are usually not registered with the Reserve Bank of India and therefore do not follow any guidelines or protocols defined by law. It is believed that due to the constant harassment of these online loan apps, a number of people have taken the extreme step of ending their lives, one of them being a screenwriter for the television series of a popular show.

Last year in November, TV series writer Abhishek Makwana, 37, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his Kandivali residence. Makwana had left a suicide note, in which he mentioned that he was facing financial, as well as personal, issues that caused him to end his life. Additionally, when the family checked the writer’s emails and bank details, they alleged that he took short-term loans from online apps and was harassing him for payments, which then pushed him off the ledge. While Charkop’s police have approached the bank to find leads, they have yet to register an FIR.

Explaining the modus operandi of these online lending apps, said a police officer, these fintech apps target 18- to 40-year-olds on social media, enticing them with an interest rate of just 0.98%. The announcement leaves out, however, that this interest will be calculated per day, bringing the annual interest to a much higher number, while also charging borrowers a processing fee.

Public shame by salvage agents

Surprisingly, when these apps are downloaded, they necessarily require access to your contacts, video and photo gallery. Once access is granted, you must share your PAN card and Aadhaar details, which makes the borrower very vulnerable to fraud, an official said. Representatives of the app also gain access to contacts, photo gallery and messages, after which they send messages of public shame to all members of the borrower list.

Online lending apps, which were rampant long before the novel coronavirus pandemic hit the world, had attracted financially vulnerable young people by claiming the money would be transferred almost instantly, unlike other registered fintech apps. Borrowers, who fall deep into this abyss, face threats, social shame and harassment from these apps, an officer said.

Call center worker Jyotika Thakkar, 27, said: “I had taken out a loan from one of these apps available on the PlayStore, and after the pandemic-induced lockdown was put in place, I have been fired. When I was unable to repay the month-long loan, the lenders called my brother and friends, informing them that I was in default and that if I am unable to pay, they will be held responsible. “

Police say

Mulund Police and Deputy Police Commissioner (Zone 7) Prashant Kadam last month foiled a suicide attempt by a man, who was planning to end his life because of credit card dues on Friday. The man, a Mulund resident, was rescued right after his wife alerted a retired cop, who then told a social activist.

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Posted on: Monday January 04, 2021 12:22 am IST

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