Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service
Hyderabad, January 3
Naming and shaming by finance companies to recover their money from defaulters has led to a loss of five lives in Telangana, the most recent being the suicide reported in Hyderabad on Saturday. Due to alleged harassment by digital money lending apps 36-year-old G Chandra Mohan, a father of three, committed suicide in Gundlapochampally under Rachakonda police.
Rachakonda police said that Chandra Mohan had taken multiple loans from several lending apps to the tune of Rs 60,000 to 70,000 in October and had defaulted. This is the fifth such instance where the lender used data from the borrower’s mobile app to access all personal data.
According to the police, the borrowers are forced to install the app on the mobiles that have access to photos, contact lists etc. The suicide victim had taken small loans from many companies, some of whom started using the numbers in the contact list and shaming the borrower.
Police said “loan collection agents called people on Chandra Mohan’s contact list and shamed him for defaulting on the loan, branding him as a fraud before his friends and family”.
Loan collectors according to the police operate call centers in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune and Delhi to misuse the information available on the defaulter’s phone. In some cases, the loan collectors also used photographs of women that are morphed with pornographic material and circulated to contacts on the defaulter’s phone.
After receiving threatening calls from the loan collectors Chandra Mohan filed a formal complaint against the harassment with the police. Apparently angered at this, the loan collectors got desperate and circulated messages and called the contact list of Chander Mohan leading to embarrassment forcing him to take his own life.
Telangana police have booked over 50 cases after complaints of harassment by defaulters and so far, 29 persons have been arrested across the state on charges of harassing defaulters. Most of these loan apps police said do not have approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for giving out loans.