After using app data to harass defaulters, loan recovery agents are now using text messages. Through a process called 'text bombs', they spam defaulters with meaningless texts causing their mobile phones to hang, Mid-Day reported.
According to the report, some victims have uninstalled payment apps fearing that their bank accounts associated with the mobile number will be compromised and that their money siphoned off.
Speaking to Mid-Day, Shaikh Mohammed Rawther, a 25-year old resident of Mahim, said loan recovery agents threatened to install a virus on his phone, "I pleaded that I am not able to repay the loan as there is no income. But they disconnected the call saying they will spam my phone," he said.
Rawther changed his phone after fearing a virus attack from the agents.
Another 25-year-old Thane resident, Pratik Rathod was bombarded with 700 messages after he failed to repay a Rs 7,000 loan to UCash. When he asked for some time to repay the loan, the agents bombarded him with messages containing One Time Passwords (OTPs). After this, Rathod could not use his phone and had to replace it, the report said.
According to the report, a similar experience occurred with Siddhesh Nandiwadekar, a 28-year-old Dombivli resident. He was spammed with mass messages containing bugs for a loan of Rs 1,500 from RapidRupee. Fearing that all bank details associated with the mobile number may get compromised, he uninstalled all mobile payment apps.
Moneycontrol couldn’t independently verify the report.
Govind Ray, a cybersecurity consultant, told the paper that SMS-bombing is a well-known method to harass individuals. They usually contain one-time passwords (OTPs) from random platforms. Explaining that it is a method to use to induce fear, Ray said, it is a form of Denial of Service (DoS) attack which prevents the user from using his phone comfortably.
CashBean, which is run by PC Financial Services Pvt, claims that an FIR has been registered against two agents for sending wrong notices to borrowers in Gurugram, according to Raghuveer Gakhar, its Chief Financial Officer (CFO).
"We have been working within the ambit of law. A very small fraction of our clients were harassed and we have taken strong action. I have been apprised of a few more such cases through a media report and I am looking into it," said Gakhar.
If borrowers are harassed by agents, they can visit the CashBean website or call on 18005728088. They can also email the company at email@example.com, he added.
Special Inspector General of Maharashtra Police (Cyber), Yashashwi Yadav, told Mid-Day that hacking and spamming are serious offenses under the Information Technology Act, 2000. He said victims must come forward and register complaints so they can take strict action against offenders.