Online loans leave borrowers, acquaintances a harrowed lot

Earlier this year, the staff member of a private educational institution in Ernakulam Rural limits petitioned the cyber police after the contacts on her mobile phone were bombarded with calls about an online loan she had not repaid but about which she had no clue.

Things reached a state where the management of the educational institution sought an explanation from her after her colleagues complained about the harassment. However, before the cyber police could launch an investigation, the petition was withdrawn, after it emerged that a close family member had availed of the loan using her mobile phone without her knowledge. The humiliation was such that she resigned from her job.

“Similar incidents involving online loans are fairly rampant now. It involves the lender asking the applicant to install an app as a precondition before sanctioning the loan, giving the lender full access to the contact list of the applicant. Any default in the repayment of the loan, which entails exorbitant interest, risks calls to contacts, urging them to ask their acquaintance to repay the loan leading to the humiliation of the borrower,” said cyber police sources.

In another incident, a youngster had availed an online loan for playing a game and on failing to repay, his contacts were bombarded with calls.

The loan was later repaid by his family.

“Such cases are often settled informally fearing that formal probe adds to the public humiliation. Such incidents have increased now with people spending more time online,” said an official.

Though officials said that such humiliation was unlikely without actually taking a loan and ruled out accidental installation of an app leading to such trauma, incidents to the contrary are also being reported.

‘Number changed’

A young techie from Mannarkkad has been facing a similar problem since November 3, when he started getting calls asking him to repay a loan, which he claims he has not availed.

“I was getting on an average 10 calls a day from different people, asking for repayment of the loan, the amount of which varied from ₹2,000 to ₹10,000. I was forced to change the number and since then my key contacts started getting calls and even messages with my photographs stored in my mobile phone,” said the youngster.

One of his contacts even received a message signed as “legal advocate”, warning the person of legal action unless he persuaded his acquaintance to repay the loan since he was liable as “a person has given your name and number as reference”.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:39:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/online-loans-leave-borrowers-acquaintances-a-harrowed-lot/article33164577.ece

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