Internet or digital banking has made financial transactions convenient and accessible. However, this convenience comes with the risk of online fraud. In this digital era, practically everything is available at our fingertips. So, when it comes to dealing with money, it is recommended to use one’s fingers with caution.
According to the Reserve Bank of India and the National Payments Corporation of India, the number of digital transactions increased exponentially to more than 8,840 crore in FY22. With digital transactions on the rise, cybercriminals are devising new methods to defraud unsuspecting individuals of their hard-earned money.
Fraudsters usually exploit people through social engineering tactics. They ensnare individuals primarily by using the emotions of greed, threat and help to perpetrate fraud.
According to a media report, in Haryana alone, people are cheated of Rs 1 crore daily in online frauds, but only Rs 10 lakh of this is recovered or blocked. As many as 86,460 complaints were received from January to September this year and 1,761 cases were registered. Out of this, 325 cases were related to high-value frauds of Rs 5 lakh and above.
According to HDFC Bank’s internal assessment, for the first quarter of the current fiscal, over 75 per cent of the cyber fraud victims were in the age group of 26-60 years. More than 70 per cent fall prey due to greed. People are lured for better returns on investment, redemption of reward points, gift vouchers, etc., and in return, they end up losing money.
“To combat frauds, it is essential to educate and sensitise people about the modus operandi of fraudsters and secure banking tips that play a pivotal role in preventing individuals from becoming victims of cyber frauds,” says Manish Agrawal, executive vice-president, credit intelligence & control, HDFC Bank.
Agrawal suggests the following steps to protect oneself from cyber fraudsters:
- Do not click on unknown links in SMS/email messages as these may be a phishing link to steal your data and money.
- Do not download screen-sharing apps from unknown sources as these can be used to steal data from devices and install malware.
- Do not share personal banking details such as OTP and CVV with unknown numbers claiming to be calling from banks. Banks do not ask for such personal details.
- Do not fall prey to schemes/jobs/discounts/help offers which require payment to be made.
In case you happen to fall prey to fraud, you must get in touch with your bank branch immediately and call on 1930 (helpline number of National Cybercrime Reporting Portal).
Besides the above steps, one must also be aware of some of the other common types of online frauds:
Identity theft: It is one of the most common forms of Internet banking fraud. Here, cybercriminals steal personal information such as usernames, passwords and other confidential data to impersonate the victim.
Malicious software: Also commonly known as malware, it is software that is designed to infiltrate or damage computer systems. Malware can be used by fraudsters to gain unauthorised access to the net banking credentials of a person.
Employee-initiated fraud: This is a type of net banking fraud where employees of a financial institution misuse their access to sensitive information and banking systems for personal gains.
Fraudulent email (phishing): It is a common tactic used by fraudsters to trick individuals into sharing their personal information. This is usually done through fraudulent emails that appear to be from legitimate financial institutions. They ask for confidential information such as usernames, passwords and account numbers.
Vishing: This is another common online banking fraud where cybercriminals use voice calls to deceive victims into sharing personal information. The fraudster usually represents himself or herself as an executive from a bank and asks the victim to provide confidential information over the phone.
SIM swap: It is a type of e-banking fraud where cybercriminals trick a victim’s mobile service provider into transferring the victim’s mobile phone number to a SIM card in their possession. Once they have control of the phone number, they can use it to bypass the two-factor authentication measures. Through this, they gain unauthorised access to the victim’s online banking accounts.
Fake apps: Fake applications are malicious application copies that are designed in a way that they mimic legitimate banking apps. These deceive users into providing personal information. They are often downloaded from unofficial app stores or websites. In most cases, they contain malware or other malicious software.
How to prevent cybercrime
Being aware and careful is necessary to avoid Internet banking fraud. As a safety measure, one should take the following precautions:
Use strong passwords: Create strong and unique passwords for online banking accounts. Avoid using easily guessable passwords like birthdates or name-surname combinations and update them regularly.
Two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to online banking accounts. It typically involves using something one knows (such as a password) and a fingerprint or an OTP to verify their identity.
Be cautious with emails/links: One should be cautious with emails, especially those asking for personal information or urging one to click on suspicious links. One should always verify the authenticity of emails and links before providing any confidential information and avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
Keep software updated: Always keep your computer, mobile device and all software, including antivirus and anti-malware programmes, up to date with the latest security patches. This helps to protect against known vulnerabilities that cybercriminals may exploit.
Be wary of public WiFi: Avoid conducting online banking transactions on public WiFi networks, as these may not be secure and can be easily intercepted by hackers.
Check bank statements: One should check and review bank statements and transactions regularly. Report to the bank immediately if there is any suspicious activity.
Unsolicited calls: One should be sceptical of unsolicited phone calls or messages asking for personal/banking information. Legitimate financial institutions will never ask for confidential information over the phone or through messages.
What to do if fraud happens
If you see a fraudulent transaction in your account, you can limit your loss by notifying your bank immediately. For more details, give a missed call on 14440.
When you notify the bank, remember to take acknowledgement from your bank. The bank has to resolve your complaint within 90 days from the date of receipt.
If the transaction has happened because of your negligence, that is because of sharing your password, PIN, OTP, etc, you will have to bear the loss till you report it to your bank.
If the fraudulent transactions continue even after you have informed the bank, your bank will have to reimburse those amounts.
If you delay the reporting, your loss will increase and it will be decided based on the RBI guidelines and the policy approved by your bank’s board.
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