Following the arrest of Chinese nationals allegedly involved in digital loan app scam, the Ministry of Home Affairs has in a letter to states and Union Territories highlighted the “illegal lending” practices of digital applications.
The letter says that “Illegal digital lending apps are driving citizens to suicide due to harassment, blackmail and harsh recovery practices by the loan firms”.
The ministry has noted that “many of these illegal lending apps may not be regulated entities by RBI and are using bulk SMS, digital advertisement, chat messengers and mobile app stores on a massive scale”.
It said, “borrower has to provide mandatory access to contacts, location, phone storage in order to avail loan. This data is misused to harass and blackmail citizens using morphed images and other abusive practices by recovery agents located in India as well as overseas violating RBl’s Fair Practices Code.”
In August this year, RBI said that disbursal of loans and collection of repayments must be executed only between borrowers and entities regulated by it, and that no third party should be involved in this process.
The home ministry has observed that the issue has seriously impacted ‘national security, economy and citizen safety’ and has asked states and UTs to seek help from National Cyber Crime Forensic Laboratory on loan app analysis and cryptocurrency. “It has been learnt that this is an organised cybercrime executed using disposable emails, virtual numbers, mule accounts, shell companies, payment aggregators, API services (account validation, document verification), cloud hosting, crypto currency,” it noted.