Taking a serious view of various mobile app companies that offer instant loans, the Telangana police Friday stated that there are at least 60 such loan applications available on Google Play Store which are not registered or recognised by the Reserve Bank of India as an NBFC and their operations were unlawful.
The response from the Telangana DGP’s office comes in the wake of a jobless techie’s death by suicide in Hyderabad and an agriculture extension officer’s in Siddipet district in the last few days, allegedly owing to harassment and humiliation over repayment.
In a statement, the DGP’s office said that these apps violated user’s privacy. “All the apps have an uncanny commonality in their methods. They appear to be built upon one SDK which is suspected to be provided by a foreign country. Their actions of calling up friends and relatives of the victims are violative of Rule 3(2) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011 as well,” it said, encouraging the public to report to police any harassment by these apps.
Investigating into the death by suicide case of techie P Sunil (29) at his residence in Kismatpur on December 16, due to threatening and blackmailing by the representatives of instant loan mobile app companies, the Rajendranagar police found out that he had taken nearly Rs 2 lakh as loan from various instant loan apps.
The police altered the case registered initially by adding sections 420 (cheating), 306 (abetment of suicide), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506(criminal intimidation) of IPC, and section 67 of IT Act.
The representatives of the apps had blackmailed and threatened Sunil by contacting his father and wife, declared him a defaulter, and threatened to make the repayment, police found.
Some of the apps he used for taking instant loans are 1) In Cash 2) Cash era 3). Cash lion 4) Mastermelon 5) Lucky wallet 6) Coco cash 7) Rupee Pus 8) Indian Loan 9) Credit finch 10) Tap credit 11) Ratheon loan 12) Cash port 13) Smile Loan 14) Credit day 15) Cash today 16) Lucky Rupee 17) Go Cash 18) Snapit Loan 19) Loan Zone 20) Quick Cash 21) panda rupees 22) Play cash 23) Dhani 24) Lazy Pay 25) Loan Tap 26) IPPB Mobile 27) Micredit 28) Quick Credit 29) Cashon 30) Rupees Plus 31) Rupee Now 32) Elephant Loan 33) Ant cash 34) Quick Money and 35) Alp Cash.
Police found that these app companies obtained sensitive data such as contacts, photographs, etc from the mobile phone of the customers and use the data to mount pressure on the customers to ensure repayment of the loan.
Apart from Sunil’s case, Telangana police are currently investigating the death by suicide cases of Eddu Srawan Yadav in Narsapur and Kirni Mounika in Siddipet, both due to alleged harassment caused by money lending apps.
In connection to the rising number of such cases, the DGP’s office clarified that the rules of the Reserve Bank of India will strictly apply to lenders either online, offline, or from any bank.
On Friday, it said that under Section 45-1A of the RBI Act 1934, any non-banking financial companies are allowed to operate under the regulations only after proper registration. The RBI has said that any non-banking financial companies that are not registered under the law are not legal tender.
“Most of these online apps currently in circulation are not registered with the RBI and therefore do not have the authority to lend to them. Most of these apps have a Chinese way and do not have a registered address or a valid mobile number.”
On the operations of such apps, it is said that the interest rates on loans offered through such apps are up to 1 percent per day and are usually higher than the interest rates offered by banks or NBFC registered companies. “If the borrowers do not repay on time, the interest will be doubled or tripled. These apps threaten to repay non-performing borrowers, blackmail them and commit online harassment,” it said.