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What Is Payment Fraud and How Can It Be Prevented?

  • Highlights

  • As the number of digital transactions has multiplied, so has the volume of online payment frauds in India

  • Scammers carry out frauds by making the victim do fraudulent payments, download malicious apps, or disclose their banking credentials

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have become increasingly reliant upon digital modes of payment and transaction. For majority of people, instant access and convenience are the biggest draws of digital transactions. However, there’s also a growing threat: the rise in the number of online payment frauds in India.
According to a recent global survey by TransUnion, suspected fraudulent digital transaction attempts from India have increased by a whopping 28.32% since March 2020 compared to the previous year. Globally, various types of digital payment frauds have seen a surge, such as confidence tricks, identity theft, and hacked digital wallets. All these scams target real-time transactions with superlative ease, much in part due to the lack of awareness amongst the masses.
  Therefore, in this article, we will take a look at what exactly is payment fraud, its various types, and how can you protect yourself against this growing menace.

What is payment fraud?

Simply put, any type of fraud wherein your transaction is deliberately jeopardised is called payment fraud. The most obvious aim of such a fraud is to steal your money in the form of a wrongful or hacked payment. In certain cases, you won’t even realise that you have made a fraudulent payment to the culprits.
As such, conducting these frauds has become easy with the rampant adoption of digital modes of transaction. Technologies like UPI, for example, link your bank accounts and credit/debit cards with your phone number and digital wallets. While this simplifies transactions and payments, it also means that fraudsters can digitally access your account via your mobile phone, phone number, negligence, information sharing, hacking, password theft, etc.
The first step to safeguarding yourself against such scams is to understand the different types of digital payment frauds that are rampant in India.

Different types of digital payment frauds

  1. Fake UPI apps: There are many fake UPI and digital wallet apps that mimic the design, logo, and name of genuine apps on the app store. Unaware users download these apps instead of the original ones, thus exposing their sensitive financial details and payments.

  2. Request money fraud: Scammers send fraudulent money transfer links via SMS, email, or social media, often creating a sense of urgency and asking users to click and make a payment. They could also pose as your friends, relatives, colleagues, or financial service providers coercing you to make a payment, either as an emergency fund, or some sort of fee.

  3. Vishing: This is a particularly common scam in which fraudsters, posing as bank officials, contact unsuspecting individuals on the phone, convincing them to install remote access apps on their phones. This way, they are able to hack digital accounts and carry out fraudulent transactions.

  4. Refund fraud: This is a deceptive scam in which the victims are tricked into clicking suspicious links that claim to award them with a refund. They then end up disclosing banking credentials to claim the refund.

  5. QR code scam: With QR code payments now becoming ubiquitous, many fraudsters send deceptive QR codes through forwarded WhatsApp messages, urging the user to scan them and claim a prize or some sort of money. However, upon scanning, the victims end up making a payment to the scammers.

    What Is Payment Fraud

  6. SIM cloning: Another popular payment fraud is related to SIM card cloning. In this scam, the perpetrator acquires a duplicate SIM card which enables him to access OTPs and other sensitive information.

  7. SMS forwarding scam: Beware of any scam that involves coercing individuals into forwarding a fraudulent SMS that lures them with the promise of making money, but embeds malicious UPI app links in reality.

  8. Fake helpline numbers: By changing online data and publishing fake helpline numbers on search engines, fraudsters are able to lure unsuspecting callers. They then ask them to first make a small payment before receiving help.


What Is Payment Fraud

Precautions to follow

Now that you know of the most popular payment scams, here’s how you can avoid them:

  • Download only the official apps of financial service providers, popular UPI services, and mobile wallets. Look for their rating on the store, the number of downloads, and ensure that they are also listed on the official websites of the companies

  • Enable 2-factor authentication on all sensitive apps and services so that any payment only gets a go-ahead after inputting the PIN and an OTP

  • Don’t give in to any money requests, however minor, without verifying the identity of the sender

  • Never disclose any financial information, personal credentials, OTPs, passwords, PINs, etc. to any unauthorised individuals

  • Never click on any suspicious-looking website links received via email, SMS, social media, or WhatsApp

  • Ignore any WhatsApp forwards or SMS that sound too good to be true and ask you to either scan a QR code, share information, click on a link, etc. to claim money/refund/cashback/discounts/prizes

  • Do not entertain any requests received for KYC verification. Banks and service providers don’t send suspicious links to perform such activities

  • Immediately block your accounts and cards in the event of fraud. Contact the bank or the company, and the Cyber Crime Cell at https://cybercrime.gov.in/ to report the scam


What to do in case of Bajaj Finance related payment fraud?

As a customer of Bajaj Finserv or Bajaj Finance, you too may get targeted by fraudsters through any of the above-mentioned payment scams. Make sure you download official apps mentioned on the Bajaj Finserv’s website or in the app store. Also, note that no Bajaj Finance official will ever contact you asking for a payment. If you encounter any suspicious activity or a case of fraud, then don’t hesitate! Report it immediately on the national cyber security helpline website at https://cybercrime.gov.in/Webform/Helpline.aspx or call up 155260.

Savdhaan Rahein. Safe Rahein.

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