When “María” needed money, she downloaded SolPeso, one of the growing numbers of instant lending apps. To grant her the loan, the app asked not only for her personal and financial data, it also requested access to her phone’s data, including her contacts list.
Even though SolPeso transferred less money than promised, María said the app demanded the original amount plus interest be repaid in a few days. When she couldn’t pay, the lender called and messaged her with threats.
She received more than 50 calls and messages daily, containing threats that ranged from saying the lenders would distribute photoshopped photos of María as a thief to threatening to rape and kill her family if she didn’t repay.