Every business and individual is susceptible to fraud, it is largely because criminals use several modus operandi and keep modifying them to exploit general trends and sentiment in society.
With each step companies take to protect their assets from fraud, cybercriminals adopt even more sophisticated strategies and harness disruptive tech for their own gains.
As India grapples with the second covid wave, cybercriminals are working overtime to take advantage of the situation. There are already many incidents of fraud involving vaccines, donations, digital payments etc. Cybercriminals often pose as bank officials and offered loan moratorium for a “fee". There were fake UPI (unified payment interface) handles for PM CARES Fund.
Here are 4 ways one should learn to protect themselves from such fraud:
Do not fall for the urgency trap
Fraudsters play on people’s emotions and exploit their ability to make irrational decisions under the influence of emotions. Fraud calls are meant to create a sense of higher benefit for lower cost. Today, the most frequently used trick is to persuade people to act immediately.
For instance, one gets a call that is offering them a hard-to-resist vacation deal or asking for advance for the very last piece of oxygen cylinder or concentrator. The urgency will invoke the fear of losing out if not acted fast. Hence, fact check properly before making any advance payments on unknown numbers.
Be aware of phishing attacks
One must be careful of phishing emails. These emails are designed to prompt one to click on links provided within the email to verify or change the account details in some way. Often, the links included in the email are ways for fraudsters to install malicious software onto the computer or device the device uses to access the email. This Malware can be used to obtain personal information. In case of any suspicion, one must look up the domain name of the email received to verify its authenticity.
As the popularity of online shopping continues to grow each year, so too have the instances of fraud. One does not want to do business with unreliable websites—sites that house multitudes of hackers and cyber criminals or that sell bogus products and swindle users. Fake e-commerce sites promote offers that are just too good to be true. The site will put out an incredibly great sale that is just too good to be true.
Hence, before shopping online and storing the card information on the shopping site, make sure the website uses secure technology. When at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https://, where the S stands for secure. More importantly, access sites by typing the url or stored bookmarks, avoid clicking on links received in messages.
Do not share OTPs or personal details
It is advisable to not share the details like debit and credit card numbers, PIN, expiry dates, CVV numbers, bank account details, OTP, etc., with anyone. Memorize the internet banking passwords and ATM PINs rather than writing them down or storing them on the phone. In many cases, the fraudster might already have some details about an individual, which can be used to partially get through a transaction. Usually, the last leg of a transaction is the OTP or some other detail.
The fraudsters would insist that you share that OTP, which will then allow them to complete the transaction. If anyone ask you for such details, ask for an official email without sharing your email address. If it is a genuine bank official, then he/she should not have any issue with sending the email and would already have your email address in their record. Fraudsters also carry out Identity Theft via Phishing, Vishing, Smishing to creating a false identity like the original identity with the purpose of making fraudulent transactions. They use the personal information of another person to withdraw funds from banks, obtain credit cards, etc. The idea is to capture details that can help them carry fraudulent transactions.
If one’s information has been leaked and they are at risk, they must contact their bank immediately. Keep a close eye on the bank accounts and as soon as anything fraudulent is noticed, report the bank. The bank will freeze the cards to prevent any other fraudulent transactions from going through and issue a refund as soon as possible after they have made the necessary verifications.
The author, Sujay Vasudevan, is Vice President, Cyber and Intelligence Solutions, South Asia at Mastercard. The views expressed are personal