Cyberbullying in Ghana: How digital lending apps are terrorising mobile users

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Cyberbullying in Ghana

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying in which the perpetrator uses electronic forms of contact as the medium for the abuse. Cyberbullying can occur via text messaging, email, social networking sites, instant messaging, and other online communication methods.

Cyberbullying can be viewed as the equivalent of schoolyard bullying, only that it occurs outside the bounds of school, during non-school hours.

It is much more challenging to stop cyberbullying than traditional bullying because cyberspace has no boundaries or rules. The anonymity of being online makes many people feel emboldened to say things they would not say face to face. It is much easier for a bully to spread rumours about someone without their victim knowing who said it and without getting caught themselves.

digital lending apps
(Image credit: JB Klutse / JBKlutse Foundation)

How does cyberbullying in Ghana using digital lending mobile applications occur

Digital lending mobile applications (DLMA) have become a convenient way for borrowers to get loans. Unfortunately, these DLMAs often prey upon the most vulnerable members of society, who are often unable to see through false promises and deceptive advertising.

The people targeted by this type of cyberbullying are users of digital lending mobile applications (apps). These apps can be found on Google Play Store or shared as Android Package files (APK) via social media. The victims of this form of cyberbullying are people seeking loans by downloading these digital lending mobile applications. Unfortunately, by doing so, they expose personal information like Ghana card information to these fraudsters/cyberbullies. 

Mobile lending applications are a great way to get the money you need when you need it. But before you take out a loan, ensure the company and its employees will not try to bully or threaten you.

The modus operandi of digital lending mobile cyberbullies is simple: they offer loans to people at very high-interest rates and then threaten to expose them on social media or contacts if they default in their payment. Sometimes they follow through on their threats.

Even if you haven’t taken out any loans, cyberbullies can still threaten and bully people with messages through their mobile apps. 

What to do if you are being bullied by digital lending mobile application owners

If you’ve had this happen to you, you’re probably wondering what recourse is available. Luckily, several things can be done:

  1. Report the person harassing you for loan repayment as soon as possible. You can report cybercrimes and harassment and seek guidance from the Cyber Security Authority(CSA) of Ghana. The CSA has a 24-hour cybercrime/cybersecurity incident reporting point of contact. You can call or text 292, Whatsapp – 0501603111, or email- [email protected]
  2.  Keep all messages and photos of threats/bullying in case they need to be used as evidence later on in court proceedings.
  3.  Tell your bank about it so they can cancel any transactions made through their service by this person. They might even issue a refund if enough evidence has been provided!

Key Findings from the Cyber Security Authority (CSA)

According to the CSA, here are the commonly reported apps in the scheme; FourCredy, FiCashX, 4Cedi, Aliloan, Boseapa, CediBoom, Cocoaloan, Mach Loan, Easy Loan, and Onloan. 

These digital lending platforms get access to victims to their data and personal identifiable information (PII), eg, name, phone number, Ghana card number, etc. They can gain such information when victims unknowingly grant these apps permission during installation. 

The Bank of Ghana, in a notice dated (2022/10) has stated that it has not given the license to such digital lending apps/platforms to operate or give loans to the public. 

These digital lending platforms have not met the compliance obligations of the Data Protection Commission. Hence their access and use of the data and PII of users violate the Data Protection Act,2012 (Act 843). 

Things you should take note of

Do not subscribe to these mobile applications since they are not sanctioned by the Bank of Ghana and the Data Protection Commission.

Review permissions for mobile applications carefully before installing them.

We hope this article has helped you learn about the new form of cyberbullying in Ghana using digital lending apps.

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