At the end of January, Habeeb Akinlotan (fictitious name) borrowed the sum of 10,000 naira from Deloan, a fast loan company, with a two-week repayment plan. His expectations were cut short when the salary he was counting on was not paid on time.
“The moment our administrative officer told us that it would take another two days before the workers could receive their wages, I knew I was in trouble,” Akinlotan said in a chat with IFJ .
READ ALSO: Nigerian Woman Arrested With 600 Grams Of Heroin In Italy
“I immediately tried to call Agent Deloan’s number I had with me, but she did not answer my call. I also texted the number but received no response. I wanted to beg them to give me two more days, but in the end I couldn’t talk to her.
On Thursday, a day after the deadline for reimbursement, a message saying that Akinlotan had contracted HIV was sent to all contacts on his phone.
The message said:
This is to inform the general public that ****** with phone number ******0382 tested positive for HIV/AIDS and escaped from the healthcare facility with the intention of infect the public. Please avoid her and contact the nearest police station or health center, so that she can be apprehended and brought back to the care center. Public Health Nigeria. HIV/AIDS Department.
“The incident brought me a lot of shame to the point that I considered taking a sniper and killing myself. All my relatives, friends and work colleagues kept calling me because of the message,” said the 37-year-old office assistant.
READ ALSO: Arrested as GTB reimburses missing client N2.95m after FIJ story
He went on to tell FIJ that his boss, who was also the recipient of the message, eventually sent him the money so he could make the refund.
“When one of their agents finally contacted me yesterday, I told him I now had the money. I also told him that I would not issue the refund until I received a further confirmation from all my contacts saying that Deloan apologized for the defamatory messages they sent earlier, and that the claim that I am HIV positive is false,” Akinlotan said.
On November 15, 2021, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) issued a statement announcing the start of an investigation into rights violations in the money lending industry.
This came after the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) fined Sokoloan, another lender, for breaching the privacy of its customers’ data, an action that clearly violates Article 2.2 of the Nigerian Data Protection Regulations (NDPR), which prohibits illegal sharing of data with third parties.
READ ALSO: Nigerian Athlete Blessing Okagbare Banned For 10 Years ‘For Cheating’ At 2020 Olympics
Despite fines and penalties, lending companies continued to invent new ways to harass their debtors.
FIJ made several calls to the Deloan service line, but they went unanswered. A text message sent to the company also went unanswered.