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Internet is a double-edged sword – convenience and getting conned are its two edges
Review every website for its security seal, spelling and grammatical errors, and the layout
Do not fall prey to bait or fear, a fake sense of urgency or lucrative offers
Just like technology, the omnipresence of the internet and smartphones have eased our lives. However, this comes at a cost. We are now more susceptible than ever to the perils of the cyber world. If the internet has made our life so comfortable that we can get everything from the comfort of our couch, it has also exposed us to dark malicious imposters out there waiting to entrap us.
The number of scams related to fake websites is on the rise with each passing year. The scammers have gone a step ahead from pretending to be employees of reputed organisations selling insurance to spoofing domain names for their cunning endeavours.
It is, thus, important that we be on our guard and don’t fall for everything the internet throws our way.
What is fake website fraud?
As the name suggests, a fake website fraud involves using a scam website to con people. The scamming can be under multiple premises such as attractive sales, bank website offers, the government website for information updating, etc., but the mechanics across all are the same, i.e., getting people to give money. This could be either through a direct purchase or entering personal information that will give illegal access to your bank accounts.
Online muggers will lure users to access fake website through SMS, emails, etc., and present an issue that necessitates urgent action from their end to proceed. The situation created will require their credit card information, account login, and other such sensitive data.
The two most popular fake websites examples would be:
Phishing fake websites – The fraudsters create illegitimate websites for banks, service providers and present fake situations to get you to disclose your personal information. This could be an insurance renewal at a very low rates or your Netflix account password reset and more.
Online sellers scam websites – In this scenario, scammers create a fake e-commerce website and sell products at prices that are too good to be true to get your credit card or net banking details.
Another upcoming fraud website example is formjacking where unscrupulous people hack an e-commerce website and when one needs to pay, they are directed to a different URL which is eerily similar to the payment gateway which you won’t suspect. They then obtain your financial information.
How do these scammers operate?
‘Offers like never before, dear Bajaaj Finserv member, click on the link to get 75% off this weekend on all products’
‘Dear member, we are writing to you from Bajaj Finaance, please update your personal details on our website or your loan will be cancelled’
Such a spoof email will be sent to you with a link to a website that seems similar to that of Bajaj Finance. Here, you will be asked to disclose some sensitive information – account name, password, etc. If Bajaj Finance was ever trying to contact you, firstly they would know your name since you are associated with them and secondly, they would never use a threatening tone or suspend any ongoing transaction with them.
The people who conduct this type of fraud deceive users in 3 ways:
Bait or fear: Attackers will lure internet users to their website, through attractive offers via multiple distribution channels. The second emotion they play on is fear, giving ultimatums such as ‘You have 24 hours to reset your password…’ or ‘…24 hours to renew your policy else your account will shut down or insurance will cease to exist’
Compromise: They then compromise the users’ position by making the users expose their sensitive information
Execution: Cyber-criminals then exploit the private information for private gains
How to identify fake websites
Check the domain name carefully: Since the fake websites are similar to the original, there will be a slight spelling error, www.bajaajfinserv.com, which can be missed when you glance but if you look closely, you know it’s a fake. The website's URL will disclose its legitimacy – fake website names will have an extra letter oixr ‘rn’ instead of ‘m’ that could go unnoticed.
The language: If the communication on the email or website tends to reflect extreme emotions such as a sense of urgency, fear, or ‘too good to miss out on’, be on your guard. Real organizations are not dramatic with their communication.
Poor design and website interface: Legitimate organizations such as Bajaj Finserv, will have good design, communication, and visuals. If the website seems amateurish, it should raise a flag.
Bad grammar: Search for things such as broken English, spelling mistakes, and grammatical errors such as incorrect tenses or improper use of singular and plural words.
Visit the identifying pages: Check the contact us and about us page. See the email ID listed there. If it is something like email@example.com or hotmail.com, it should raise an alert.
Do not provide sensitive information - Be wary about providing personal financial and sensitive information, account numbers, or credit card information on any website that has not been verified by you.
Look for the trust seal on the website - A trust seal indicates that the website you are on is safe. This seal is a stamp approved by a security partner, CA, or certificate authority, which upholds the website’s legitimacy. A click on a legitimate trust seal will take you to a page that confirms its authenticity.
What happens if you have been a victim of this scam?
Despite website fraud awareness, you may be unfortunate enough to fall prey to a malicious website. If you have, immediate action should be taken.
You should report it to your nearest police stations
Log onto https://cybercrime.gov.in/ or call the 24x7 cyber helpline 155260 to report it
If you signed up for a recurring transaction, then call your credit card/ financial provider and block the card and future transactions
Update your account information and change your passwords
Contact the original company the imposters were pretending to be from and report the scenario
Do fight cyber-crime by being alert and not being trigger-happy. Like it is said, better safe than sorry.
Savdhaan Rahein. Safe Rahein.
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