EconomyWhat do I do if I fell for a...

What do I do if I fell for a digital scam

Mexicans between the ages of 22 and 38, especially those without jobs, are victims of digital fraud , also known as ” mountain debts .”

Although the government of Mexico City has initiated a series of investigations and, here we tell you how to avoid falling into these schemes.

It all starts because with the increase in digitization and the use of cell phones, fraudsters commit crimes through mobile applications offering express loans that after a while they charge high interest and in extreme cases, with violence.

Defense of the Debtor , a civil organization that provides free legal advice, told Expansión that in recent months it has received thousands of requests for advice per day.

“The complaints before the authority are nothing compared to the number of requests for help that come to us every day. 80% of the advice we have given in 2022 are for (fraud in) applications, in 2020 the percentage was 40 %”, Ángel González Badillo, director of the organization, said in an interview.

He considered that since the pandemic, the potential market for these applications has increased due to the large number of people who have lost their jobs. In 2020, 647,710 jobs registered with the IMSS were lost.

“They see the application as a solution and we understand that the people who ask for money from the applications do not have money, they are the most disadvantaged population, people who do not have a job or who earn very little. They ask the applications for 1,000 or 2,000 pesos to complete your rent, to buy medicines or to buy groceries. You cannot go on a trip with what an application lends you,” he said.

These applications are downloaded from digital stores such as Google Play and ask users for personal information such as contacts or access to their image gallery in exchange for loans that do not exceed 10,000 pesos.

González Badillo added that many of the frauds are committed in applications that are authorized without being regulated. “It is common for these applications, even if they are legal, to use a quite violent collection scheme, that they do not recognize the payments that people make, for example: people who settle the debt and the companies say that the payment has not fallen,” he explained. .

The expert added that there is no way to solve the problem because there is no regulatory authority, leaving the client defenseless and in some cases with damage to their credit history. Most of these companies also do not have an address where you can go to claim under the argument that they are digital.

In the case of illegal apps, the problem is even more complex: the developers come from countries like China or Taiwan and make themselves known on social networks like Facebook, so people think they are trustworthy and download them.

The applications, legal and illegal, ask users for a series of permissions, including access to the contact book, images or calendar, as well as the location via GPS.

“Immediately they download your contact book and some applications offer, for example, 91 days to settle the debt, but on the fifth or sixth day the calls or threatening messages start telling people that they have to pay now and it turns out that the interest They were not the ones they pointed out at the beginning at all,” González warned.

The extortionists will use the contact list to ask friends and family to pay that debt or to accuse the person of being a bad payer. These applications are designed so that debts become unpayable and threaten to send their clients to the credit bureau. However, that is a lie . No institution that is not legal can put a negative mark on you in the credit bureau.

“An illegal application cannot report you to the credit bureau, it cannot contract credit applications because it lacks the requirements to do so, nor can it demand payment from you because there is no document to support the debt, even if it is digital,” said the specialist. .

Since these apps have access to the gallery and contacts, criminals can use photos to intimidate people or send threatening messages to the debtor’s contacts.

“The aggression occurs with everything, even (they send) photos of dismembered or dead people. The illegal application knows that at some point people will no longer be able to pay it, because people ask for 1,000 pesos, they give them 600 and they manage to get 2,000 or 3,000 pesos with this collection scheme,” he added.

People, as long as they don’t bother their friends and acquaintances, make payments of 300 or 400 pesos until they end up paying up to 10 times more than what they received.

How to prevent falling for this type of scam?

Defense of the Debtor recommends that those who are going to apply for a loan via application, first check if it is . If the firm is in that register, you can be certain that there will be a dependency that advises or supports you.

In the case of fintech companies, the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) has a registry of 34 companies that comply with the regulations. If you want to check the list, .

An elementary red flag is that they ask for money in advance, arguing that it is for legal procedures or to investigate your profile.

It can also be consulted on the Financial Fraud Portal. It is a page, launched by Condusef itself, in which users report fraud or scams by illegal companies that pose as others by making slight changes to their names.

What can I do if I already fell into this scheme?

If you have downloaded the application and the firm threatens you, you must file a complaint with the Public Ministry or you can also ask for advice at .

González also recommended modifying the app’s permissions and uninstalling it. You can also block numbers that annoy the user.

“These guys use social engineering to try to break people psychologically with threats of images, audio, etc. The advice we give people is not to get hooked, do not answer under any circumstances, simply and simply as soon as they hear or read the message that it is a collector, you have to block it, “he said.

Although the Citizen Council for Security and Justice of Mexico City has records of 5,452 cases of extortion via app between January and June of this year, Defense of the Debtor says that there are many more.

Not everything is the fault of the users. González points out that after the pandemic, which left more than a million people unemployed, applications that lend money became an alternative for people to pay expenses such as rent or food purchases. The situation is aggravated, according to the expert, with older adults who are more vulnerable.

Financial companies suffer identity theft

Okredito is a financial solutions company that grants loans from 500 to 6,000 pesos. The company told Expansión that it has been a victim of identity theft.

Carlos Urrutía, official spokesman for Okredito, commented in an interview that a company pretending to be them with names like OKcredito, has received complaints before the Citizen Council for Security and Justice for the crime of fraud.

OKredito has already contacted the authorities to determine responsibilities and have filed criminal complaints against the usurpers. “There are many companies that have similar names and (people) can be confused at any time, many of these companies are identity theft, which means that they can have a name very similar to mine that they can publish their contracts with very similar information mine,” he warned.

They have also searched for online stores to report these companies until they take them down, however, days later they return and resume operations.

To prevent more people from being affected, OKredito is devising a strategy: they are going to educate their clients with tips that allow them to avoid falling into these frauds, they will hold conversations with government authorities until they achieve collaborative work on legislation issues, and they will promote among their clients the incentivized complaint, that is, there will be a reward for each person who warns them of identity theft.

For Urrutía, beyond a bad reputation for the firm, he is concerned about the damage that this type of event impacts the financial ecosystem.

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