Digital loan apps scams: Man blackmailed over loan. It can happen to you; just don't do this

    A new kind of digital loan apps scam has started plaguing India. Here scammers ask victims to download an app to get loans at attractive terms only to later harass, threaten and even blackmail them. Know more about this online trap and how not to fall for it.
    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 12:56 IST
    Scam
    Do not download these digital loan apps and fall for this digital loan scam. Protect yourself from these dangerous scammers (Alex Green/Pexels)
    Scam
    Do not download these digital loan apps and fall for this digital loan scam. Protect yourself from these dangerous scammers (Alex Green/Pexels)

    With the rise of digital infrastructure, there has been a rise in digital crimes as well. Among them, digital loan apps scams have emerged as a particularly dangerous and heinous cybercrime. The scammers create loan apps and advertise attractive loan repayment terms to trap victims. Once a victim downloads and takes a loan, the loanee is immediately bombarded with texts messages, WhatsApp texts and phone calls harassing and threatening them for quick repayment, often for a much higher amount than previously agreed upon. If the victim refuses, they even go as far as blackmailing them to call and harass their friends and family. This dangerous scam has also driven people to commit suicide to escape their humiliation in front of friends and family. Make sure you never fall for it. Read on to know how this scam spreads and how you can protect yourself.

    According to a report by BBC, the case of Raj (changed name) highlights the modus operandi as well as how these digital loan scams can actually affect people. Raj, a Pune-based man was lured into one of these scam apps due to its easy process and attractive interest rates. He decided to take a loan of around Rs. 8,500 in March. For this, he had to download an app and submit a copy of an identity card to qualify. He received the loan very quickly, but only half of the amount requested. But it was three days later, when this loan turned his life into a nightmare.

    Digital loan scams are pushing people to the verge of suicide

    After three days, the company began demanding that he should pay back three times the amount loaned. On refusing, they began harassing and threatening him. With no way out, he decided to take loans from other finance apps to pay off the first loan. Soon, he had accumulated a loan of Rs. 4.5 lakh across 33 different apps.

    "I don't think they will let me go. I am scared for my life. I get threatening calls and messages everyday," Raj told BBC. Sadly, Raj is just one of many people who have fallen prey to this scam. Sandeep Korgaonkar committed suicide on May 4 due to threats and harassment from the loan scammers, according to his family who spoke to BBC.

    The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had identified 600 illegal apps between January 2020 and March 2021. Yet it has not been enough as more of these apps keep popping up. The RBI has asked the government to come up with new legislation to help stop illegal digital lending. It has also suggested creating a central agency under RBI so it can verify the loan apps. But meanwhile, what can you do to protect yourself from these digital loan scams?

    How to protect yourself from digital loan scams

    Step 1:

    Do not download any financial apps unless you recognize it to be from a secure source.

    Step 2:

    Always try to find out if the digital loan app is backed by a physical bank or is registered as an NBFC, as only they are allowed by the RBI to disburse loans. 

    Step 3:

    Never give these apps any extra permission like contacts, location etc.

    Step 4:

    Try not to fall for easy repayment schemes and low interest rates. If you have to take a loan, always go through authentic channels.

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    First Published Date: 07 Jun, 11:16 IST
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