Shamed by money lending apps' staff, three end lives

Humiliated by money lending apps' representatives, three end lives in Telangana

Police officials are appealing to the public to report such harassment from the apps, most of which are Chinese

Representative image. Credit: Pixabay Photo

Tormented by representatives of money lending app companies from where they availed loans at exorbitant interest rates, at least three people have died by suicide recently in Telangana.

More people, who were bearing such torture till now in silence, are approaching the police for help.

Some of these victims are those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 impact on the economy.

P Sunil, 29 years, is one such victim who hung himself in his flat at Kismatpur in Hyderabad last Wednesday.

Sunil, a software engineer with a private company in the IT hub Madhapur, has been jobless for the past few months. Mounting debts and the need to run his family forced Sunil to turn to these online apps for instant loans.

Sunil took about Rs 2 lakh from various apps he had installed on his phone. As he failed to repay the amount, representatives of the app companies started to threaten him and even blackmailed saying they would shame him before his family and friends via social media platforms like Whatsapp.

Subsequently, Sunil's father and wife received calls from these companies declaring him a defaulter and threatened them too while demanding the repayment.

On coming to know the abuse faced by his family, Sunil took the extreme step.

Kirni Mounika, 28 years, an Agriculture Extension Officer in Siddipet district also took her life last week facing such humiliation. Sravan Yadav, 23 years, a farmer from Narsapur ended his life for the same reason.

While investigating the cases, Telangana police officials are cautioning the public from using such unrecognised apps which steal sensitive data to extort the defaulters.

According to the police, there are at least 60 such loan applications on the Google Playstore. Most of them are Chinese.

“These apps are run by certain names which are not registered or recognised by the RBI as a NBFC. So, their operations are completely unlawful,” officials say. “Hosting of these apps also violates certain conditions laid by Google. It can be asked to take down these apps.”

Police say that these apps gather every bit of data from the user's phone in violation of user’s privacy.

“Their actions of calling friends and relatives are in violation of rules,” a police official said while appealing to the public to report this kind of harassment.

Under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, all the intermediaries, ie apps in this case, are supposed to provide names of their grievance officer along with contact details. In almost all these apps, the details provided are fictitious.

All such apps show an uncanny commonality in their modus operandi. They appear to be built on one Software Development Kit suspected to be provided by a foreign country, police said.

Police advisory to the public

  • Most of the loan apps available on the internet are fraudulent, not sanctioned by the RBI.

  • Genuineness of the NBFC purportedly represented by the app, should be verified on the RBI’s website.

  • Do not download any loan based application, as most of them are exploitative.

  • Do not provide personal details, Aadhar, bank accounts, which are likely to be misused.

  • Do not consent access of your phone to these loan apps.

  • Do not accept terms and conditions of any loan app.

  • Be aware that all your phone contacts, photos, locations and phone memory will be compromised by these apps and can be used to harass or blackmail later on.

  • The money lender may threaten that a criminal case would be registered against you. Contact police in such cases.

  • If you or people close to you receive abusive, threatening and harassment calls, bring them to notice of the police.