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Volume IconOnline frauds: The precaution we should take to protect ourselves

The country's march towards a digital economy gathered pace in the last two years. At the same time, the country witnessed a jump in online payment frauds. Here's how we can protect ourselves online

hacking, privacy, data, cybersecurity, fraud

The Reserve Bank of India in its annual report said that Covid-19 pandemic fuelled the proliferation of digital modes of payments. As money grew on virtual platforms, so did the tech-savvy fraudsters. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the cyber-crimes saw a surge of 12 per cent last year. And just like the real world, the law enforcement agencies are on toes to curb frauds in the virtual world too.

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And if you thought that just the elderly and technically-challenged people fall prey to cyber frauds, then you are mistaken. Seasoned fraudsters who work full-time to cheat people have spared none. Let us see what methods these fraudsters adopt to swindle money.

As the maximum financial transactions take place through United Payments Interface or UPI, this platform witnesses the most attacks. The fraudsters use a basic feature of UPI apps called ‘collect request’ for cheating. The collect request feature on UPI apps lets you request others to pay you a specified amount.

This type of fraud is most prevalent on platforms like OLX, Quikr and Telegram. Assume that you are a seller who just listed your phone for sale on OLX. The fraudster will call you to show interest in purchasing the phone. He may even insist on paying an advance even without taking a look at the product. And in the next step, he will send you a UPI collect request after taking your phone number or the UPI ID.

The scammer promises to transfer the money to you, but instead sends a request demanding money. But the unsuspecting seller, thinking that it is a request to accept money, approves it following which money is debited from his account.

The most important thing to remember here is that receiving money via UPI takes no effort and you are not required to enter a PIN for that.

Sometimes the fraudster may also send you a collect request in the form of an image of a QR code and ask you to scan that in order to receive money. One need not even open the UPI app to receive money. If you receive such a money request, you can simply decline it.

Another popular method of fraudsters is to pose as bank officials and cheat people by gaining remote access to their mobile phones through an app.

In this scenario, a caller tells you that your KYC is invalid or that your debit card is blocked. He then asks you to download an app on your mobile phone through an external link. Once you have installed the external app, the scammer can see and control your phone through it. And, in a matter of minutes, the fraudster empties your bank account using your credentials. He will also be able to see the OTPs that you may receive for these transactions. 

Cyber criminals also use fake apps which look very similar to the official app of a bank or a company. So, never click on any external link sent by to install such apps. It will share your sensitive data that will allow fraudsters to steal money. Install apps only from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Not just this. Cyber criminals use sophisticated phishing attacks by designing websites that look similar to bank websites. Links to such sites are sent as SMSs and e-mails to customers. Customers are then persuaded to enter sensitive information including internet banking credentials, which is used to make fraudulent transactions. So, users must verify the URLs of the website more than once to stay safe.

Always keep in mind that financial institutions will never ask for sensitive customer information such as OTPs, debit card or credit card details, card security code and UPI ID or PIN. And if you realise you have been cheated, alert your bank immediately as that may help in recovery.

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First Published: Nov 24 2021 | 8:45 AM IST

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