Couple die by suicide due to harassment by loan application officers in Andhra Pradesh

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A couple from Andhra Pardesh committed suicide due to harassment by officers of a loan application. Subsequently, the state’s chief minister, YS Jagan Moah Reddy, ordered officials to take strict action against online money lending apps for harassing and blackmailing users.

According to a report by ANI news agency, the couple Durgarao and Ramya Lakshmi had taken out loans from different loan apps. As they could not repay the amount, the loan officers started threatening them saying they would share their inappropriate photos on social media.

The Chief Minister has ordered East Godavari District Collector Madhavi Latha to hand over the financial aid from 5 lakhs each to the children of the victim.

Last month, search engine giant Google informed that it had removed more than 2,000 loan applications from the Play Store in India since January this year for breach of terms, misrepresentation of information and questionable offline behavior.

The tech giant also plans to tighten its policies in the coming weeks for greater controls in this space, a senior official said.

The lending apps problem has “peaked” and may be easing given the attention and attention the issue is receiving, said Saikat Mitra, senior director and head of trust and safety, Google APAC (Asia-Pacific region).

“We are in the process of making further policy changes which will be released in a few weeks…which will make the requirements more explicit…” he said, adding that the proposed decision will lead to stricter controls.

The nature of the “lending apps” problem varies from market to market, Mitra said and added that in India it is a combination of misrepresentation, non-compliance with policies and regulations, and inappropriate off-line or “real-world” behavior of these applications during recovery and other actions.

“It involves questions such as… does the loan app prominently disclose what people are signing up for, rates for example… are you tied to a bank or an approved NBFC… This bank is she on the RBI blacklist…that also goes into offline stuff that we don’t have visibility for but we get input from law enforcement,” he explained.

On the issue of new government regulations and policies, Mitra said “as regulations come in, we are working closely with government and industry.”

“We think we’re all trying to achieve the same goals…which are privacy and security. We think our policies should really help us get there. As regulation comes in, we have a dialogue and we make sure to present our point of view,” he said.

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