WHAT IS “INSTANT LOAN APPS”?

Instant Loan apps are those mobile applications that grant loans without much documentation and procedures. The Loan is sanctioned immediately without delay.

FEATURES:

  1. They are instant and save a huge chunk of time,
  2. They require less documentation when compared to traditional loan application procedure.
  3. There is no process of visiting banks and other financial institutions to seek loans.
  4. There is not much legal compliance and security deposits involved.

INSTANT LOAN APPS SCAM

The instant loan apps became a hub for scamsters during the COVID lockdown period. People lost jobs, earning sources, depleted their savings and in need of money for survival. During these difficult times, people in need of immediate money fell prey to the tricks of these “Instant Loan Applications”.

 

HOW INSTANT LOAN APPS WORK?

The customer/user is required to download the app(Available across all platforms). The customer is asked to upload his “IDENTIFICATION CARD such as AADHAR CARD” and “PAN CARD” 

 Later, these apps ask numerous permissions to access the user's contacts, location, camera, Media and Gallery.

Once the user has accepted the terms and conditions and necessary permissions granted.

 After all the procedures are done, the loan amount requested by the user gets credited in the User’s linked Bank Account.

The entire requested amount will not be credited to the account, there are certain deductions such as processing fee , GST and other miscellaneous expenses.

( For a Requested amount of RS 5000/-, the user’s account gets credited only with Rs.3820/-. The rest are debited as processing and other charges).

 

WHEN DEFAULT OCCURS IN REPAYMENT

 When the user has defaulted in the repayment of the interest, the defaulters are categorized into 3 types

  1. D-0 Bucket- On the Due Date
  2. S-1 Bucket- 0-3 days past due
  3. S-2 Bucket-  4-10 days past due.
  4. S-3 Bucket- 11-30 days past due

These apps hire call center executives to demand amounts. There are numerous call centers established by these applications across the country especially to threaten the defaulters to repay the money. The treatment or harshness depends upon the bucket in which the user falls.

When these apps lure you to take out a loan, they also ask for your Aadhaar card, PAN card and access to your phone book. Once you provide that, this data can be used by anyone to issue anything. When you default or even pay, they use your contacts to threaten you

In the event of due, the users will be asked to repay the money and on failure to comply , the customer executives use abusive language against the users.. They threaten the users to repay the same.

In the S2 bucket stage, the relatives and family members of the users are abused. The contact info of the users are obtained earlier while sanctioning the loan and calls are made with derogatory manner to the users contacts.

Later, they send Whatsapp messages to the users contacts with derogatory remarks and comments against the user and the same is circulated among the groups.

Further , these instant loan applications charge a hefty interest rate , which is beyond the rate prescribed by the Reserve Bank Of India. Some of the apps charge a 35% rate of interest which is way beyond the slabs fixed by RBI.

PROBE INTO THE ISSUE:

There are numerous instances where people unable to bear the humiliation have committed suicide. There are instances in Hyderabad , when 2 people ended their life to these scammed apps . An investigation team has been set up by the Hyderabad Police department to look into the issue.

SOME OF THE  SCAM INSTANT LOAN APPS IDENTIFIED BY POLICE DEPARTMENT

*Hey Fish

*Monkey cash 

*Cash Elephant

*Loan Zone

*Cash Zone

*Water Elephant

*Mera Loan, etc.

REAL TIME SCAM ILLUSTRATIONS:

  • According to KillerApps (Detecting Predatory FinTech Apps), nearly 600 out of the 1,050 apps examined, used some type of 'liveness recognition,' which uses a photo to authenticate the user.  Cashless Consumer discovered that the selfies shot with these apps are processed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) software hosted on Chinese servers. It may appear non-trivial, but it poses a national security risk because it captures Facial Recognition (FR)-worthy photos as well as the individual's personal information, it has the potential to mirror the Aadhaar database if the person also gave Aadhaar when applying for the loan. Other ID proofs are then collected by these entities. They can create their own Aadhaar system.
  • Balaji Vijayaraghavan, a student of criminology based in Chennai had installed the app Snapit (later taken down by Google) in October 2020 but soon observed his bank account being used for transactions that were not linked to him, “There was a death in the family and I needed a little more money so I identified a few places where to get a loan. I didn't even log into the app but they were still able to gain access to my bank account,” Balaji, who is now assisting the Telangana and Maharashtra police with their investigations into the applications, says he had Rs 90,000 in his bank account but observed transactions of Rs 8.49 lakh.

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We speak the language of Technology & Internet. We understand how the law interacts with Technology & Internet. Cyber Crime Chambers is a boutique firm specializing in internet laws and digital forensic evidence.

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Karthikeyan.N

B.A., B.L., (Hons) IPDP., (London)
Pgd IPR., Pgd Cyber Law., Msc., (IT)
CCI., CFA., IPCL.,
Advocate, Madras High Court

Karthikeyan, is a renowned cyber law expert, who is also the Managing Partner of Law Office of Karthikeyan, a reputed law firm based in Chennai.

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