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Handy Guide to Prevent Online Fraud

  • Highlights

  • Online frauds include fake websites, phishing, lottery scams, credit card frauds, data thefts, fake employment scams, loan scams and more

  • Red flags can easily be pointed out if attention is paid to the communication, domain name, and contact information

The world has moved online, quite literally. The pandemic has further acted as a catalyst to create this growing online world. Everything from working to studying, shopping, paying bills and banking has moved online. Though it increases our horizons and offers convenience by giving access to different spheres of life from the comfort of our homes, this ease comes with a price.

We open ourselves to the risk of being victims of online fraud. There are various types of online frauds in India such as phishing, lottery scams, credit card frauds, data thefts, fake employment scams, loan scams, and more. With each passing year, these online scammers are only becoming more sophisticated in their attacks. However, their modus operandi is not fool-proof. If you remain vigilant and follow a few tips to avoid online fraud, you can keep your money safe.

Various types of online frauds in India

When one steals your identity or money using an online forum, it is termed as an online fraud. There are various types of online fraud in India:

True fraud or identity theft:
This is when scammers get access to your financial information to steal money from your account or make unauthorised purchases.
Online shopping scams:
This happens both ways, either the seller is a fraudster and takes advance payment and never renders the service. Or the buyer is a scammer who claims to receive a damaged product or no product at all to get a refund.
Assured loans and credit card approvals:
These types of scams involve making the vulnerable customer pay an upfront fee for a guarantee that the loan or credit card will be approved.

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Fake employee scams 
Fake employee scams work in multiple ways - from guaranteeing employment opportunities to issuing threats such as loan process being stalled or account being suspended so that unaware job seekers or customers pay up. They create similar looking correspondence IDs to strengthen their deceptive plans.
Phishing attacks
This crime involves getting unauthorised access to your confidential personal and financial details by tricking you into believing that they are legitimate organisations.

Handy guide to prevent online fraud

Once you familiarise yourself with common techniques used by criminals and educate yourself about the different types of online frauds in India, it becomes easier to identify the scam. It then becomes close to impossible to fall prey to these online frauds. Stay ahead of unscrupulous scammers and incorporate the following tips:

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1. Avoid sharing financial information such as CVV, OTP, PIN, etc., as this information is never required by legitimate organisations for transactions to go through.
2. Do not respond to unknown emails or messages. Always go to the official website, get the actual customer care numbers, and verify if a mail or text was actually sent by them. Prevent yourself from phishing attacks by not clicking on unverified links or downloading attachments from unknown senders.
3. When someone is creating a sense of emergency via a threat or by enticing you, such as - an offer too good to be true that will expire by the night or an account that will be suspended if you do not go to a link attached in the email and update your KYC details, it should raise a red flag.
4. Make sure your gadgets – mobile phones, computers, tablets, and other softwares are up to date with the newest security software and latest operating systems. Switch on auto-updates and install the latest updates whenever made available.
5. Set strong passwords and change them from time to time. Avoid using the same password across devices and accounts and do not write your password at any place accessible to others. Use a combination of numbers, alphanumeric, special characters, etc.
6. Do not access banking websites or transact financially on a public network.
7. Be it a phishing attack, employment scam, or a loan scam, make sure to report the website or email address to the actual organisation that the fraudsters are impersonating to be from. 
8. Do not pay an upfront fee or make an advance payment for the promise of a credit card being issued, a loan being disbursed, or an assured employment opportunity – nobody can guarantee any of these things and they definitely cannot be paid for.
9. Don’t Google numbers, go to the official websites to get the actual contact information.
10. Never wire money to unknown people in advance. Only go via trusted and legitimate websites to make purchases. 
11. Protect your account with another layer by activating the two-factor authentication. Even if one password gets compromised, the second factor will prevent any data breach.
12. Transact on and buy things from encrypted sites exclusively. Ensure that the web address starts with HTTPS and not HTTP. If the site is encrypted, your web browser displays a padlock icon. Though this is not fool proof, it is still safer than other websites. 
13. Do not be a victim of greed. In these trying times, people make offer deals online that appear too good to be true. These include job offers, discounts, free travel deals, easy giveaways, or exceptionally huge discounts on luxurious items. Do not get enticed by these offers as these are almost always fraudulent.

Despite the increasing digital transactions and switch over to cashless payments, online safety measures, literacy, and crime awareness is quite low. This is one of the reasons Bajaj Finserv launched the Savdhan Rahein, Safe Rahein campaign, a public awareness campaign to educate and protect users from online fraud.
If you do fall prey to online fraud, call the national helpline number 155260 and report the financial loss due to the online fraud. At the same time, get in touch with your financial provider to report the matter and block your card so there are no future transactions.

You can better understand the various types of online frauds and tips to avoid them here at - https://www.bajajfinserv.in/what-is-online-fraud-and-types-of-online-fraud

Savdhaan Rahein. Safe Rahein.

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