Sandeep Kumar, a 23-year-old student studying computer science at a college in Bhubhaneshwar, had borrowed 1,250 rupees from mPokket, an instant digital loan service for students. Kumar claims that under the national lockdown he had to return to his parents’ home in Jamshedpur and was not available on campus. Kumar was unable to reimburse his membership fee due to lack of funds.
After debt collectors started calling her for repayments, her family members and immediate circle of friends also started receiving messages regarding her loan.
“These agents call 40 to 50 times a day and are often very rude. They threatened to drop my CIBIL score, which will make it difficult for me to borrow money in the future, ”Kumar said. He also claims that, in a separate appeal, a debt collector threatened to manipulate Kumar’s credit rating by soliciting multiple requests for credit information from CIBIL. This is generally seen as a red flag that a customer is desperately trying to borrow money.
Pravin Kalaiselvan, a 25-year-old Mumbai resident who had borrowed 15,000 rupees from digital lender CashBean, says the company called his father on the repayment due date for missing the deadline. Since Kalaiselvan runs a travel agency, he has faced short-term cash flow issues amid the nationwide lockdown. He has since refunded all of his dues, he said.
“I hadn’t given them my father’s number as a reference and yet there were calls. It is totally illegal to approach family members on the due date for delaying payment for a few hours, ”Kalaiselvan said.
Another borrower, who spoke on condition of anonymity, shared with BloombergQuint a copy of a “legal notice” sent to him by a debt collector working for CashBean. The note, which bears an RBI stamp and says it would be referred to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which will take action against the borrower under section 488 of the Indian Penal Code.
“We keep calling my client and so many massages (sic) so many opinions but no response from client side, we provided client with a 15 day loan but fail to make payment, and our debt collector makes continuous monitoring, but we do not receive payment from the customer, ”the note said.
While the RBI allowed lenders to offer a moratorium on repayments between March and September, those borrowers said the lenders did not agree to give them relief.
Together, these borrowers have formed a group called Save Them India, which aims to provide support to borrowers facing some form of harassment from lenders. The group, made up of around 300 borrowers, also provides the necessary legal services.
mPokket did not respond to questions sent on Tuesday.
In an emailed response, CashBean, which is operated by PC Financial Services, said it had conducted an internal investigation into complaints about clawbacks that did not meet company standards.
“The company has already carried out a detailed investigation into the complaint about the sending of false letters / notices and the findings against the affected subcontracted employees have been shared with their employer (i.e. the third party contractor concerned) and the termination procedures and FIR have been conducted accordingly, ”said a representative for CashBean in the email.
The company also submitted a detailed investigation report to the RBI on April 7, he added.