Google removed over 4,700 illegal loans apps from PlayStore. How to protect yourself from fake apps?

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Did you know that Google removed nearly 4,700 illegal loan apps from PlayStore in a span of two years ending Aug 2023? The latest data was revealed by Dr Bhagwat Karad, Minister of State (MoS) in the ministry of finance in a reply in Rajya Sabha. 

Google has reviewed nearly 3,500 to 4,000 loans apps and suspended or removed over 2,500 loan apps from its PlayStore during April 2021-July 2022, reveals the data shared by 

Similarly, during Sept 2022- Aug 2023, over 2,200 loan apps were removed from the PlayStore.

Further, Google has updated its policy regarding enforcement of loan apps on the Play Store and only those apps are allowed on the PlayStore which are published by regulated entities or those working in partnership with regulated entities.

The minister also highlighted that the government engages with Reserve Bank of India and other regulators to curb illegal loan apps.

The objective is to remain proactive and maintain cyber security preparedness with constant vigil.

As a result of this, RBI on October 9, 2022 shared a list of 442 unique digital lending apps used by the regulated entities  with Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for the purpose of whitelisting and the same was shared with Google.

ALSO READ: What should investors do to protect themselves from these frivolous lending apps?

RBI has also issued details regulatory guidelines on digital lending, thus firming up the regulatory framework for digital lending. 

In fiscal 2023, there were 1,062 complaints against such lending apps, data shared by the Finance ministry in Lok Sabha in July last year.  

A dozen of fake loan apps removed by Google in September last year had one lakh downloads and 14 had over 50,000 downloads.

Digital lending apps: Follow these key principles:

1. Verify the claims: Just because some fintech lending app claims to be part of the regulated ecosystem, it should not be taken on the face value. It is advisable to cross check the claims.

2. See the downloads and reviews: A genuine app usually has positive reviews and a large number of downloads. Importantly, it should not be a fly by night operator that came into existence six months ago. 

ALSO READ: Centre cracks down on illegal loan apps, plans to do THIS; check details

Ideally, a five-year old fintech app with one million downloads and mostly positive reviews is seen as more credible than one year old lending app that has 10,000 downloads. 

3. RBI’s regulated entities: Make sure the app is either RBI’s regulated entity or registered with one of these regulated entities. One can find the list of regulated entities here

4. Customer care mechanism: Make sure that the fintech app has a well-organised customer care mechanism so that in case of some grievance, you can call up a customer care number and get it redressed.

Even RBI’s digital lending guidelines ensure that regulated entities will have a suitable nodal grievance redressal officer to deal with fintech/ digital lending related complaints raised by the borrowers. 

You can access details digital lending guidelines here.

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Published: 11 Feb 2024, 10:46 AM IST

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