In the wake of three suicides due to harassment by money-lending Apps in the last one month, the Telangana police issued an advisory to the public stating that most loan Apps available on the Internet were fraudulent and not sanctioned by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

The police asked people not to download any loan-based application as most of them were exploitative. “Do not give your personal details, Aadhaar or bank details. Do not give access to all the permissions to these loan Apps,” the police advised.

People should not accept terms and conditions of any loan App. They should be more cautious as all the phone contacts, photos, locations and phone memory will be compromised by these money lenders and can be used to harass or blackmail later.

“The money lenders might threaten stating that a criminal case would be registered against you. Contact police in such cases. If you or people close to you receive abusive, threatening and harassment calls, bring them to our notice,” the police said.

According to police, there are at least 60 such loan applications available in Google Play Store. These Apps are run by certain names which are not registered or recognized by the RBI as an NBFC. Therefore, their operations are completely unlawful.

The hosting of these Apps also violates certain conditions laid by Google App store. Google can be asked to remove these Apps. Almost all Apps have similar privacy policies which gather almost every bit of data available on users’ phone, thus violating users’ privacy in every manner, the advisory said.

Under Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, all the intermediaries, the apps in this case, are supposed to provide names of their grievance officer along with contact details. In almost all these apps, the details provided are fictitious.

Calling up friends and relatives is violation of Rule 3(2) of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011 as well. All the apps have uncanny commonality in their methods. They appear to be built upon one software development kit (SDK), which is suspected to be provided by a foreign country.

Public can report harassment to the police and verify with the RBI’s website about the genuineness of an NBFC, which is purportedly being represented by the App.

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