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Top five things to consider while making online/digital payments

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Digital payments have taken over our lives in a manner that could not have been fathomed just two years back. It has eliminated the need for plastic currency and physical currency to such an extent that even the tiniest amounts are now being made online. Though this has helped many of us to make payments effortlessly and seamlessly, it has proven to be a double-edged sword that has brought along with it many risks. Here are the top five ways to ensure that you are not scammed of your hard-earned money in the new digital world.

Beware of Phishing

Phishing is a term that is generally used in the domain of cyber space. A gentlemen X, while browsing a popular social media site, came across an offer that he found interesting. He immediately clicked on the link that directed him to another E-shopping portal (Also Read AI technology driven e-commerce platforms) that was a household name. He browsed through the goods, selected the products and proceeded to the payments section. Satisfied that he had made a good deal, he was now waiting patiently for the order to arrive. Alas, to his utter shock, the very next day that he got up in the morning, he found that his whole bank account had been drained. X had unfortunately fallen victim to the most common cyber fraud; Phishing. He was made to believe that he was on a legitimate site whereas in reality, that site as nothing but a replica of the original one. He had entered all his banking details that led to the perpetrators gain access of his accounts and withdraw all the funds.

Solution: Never click on eternal links to a website. Ensure that the address is typed in manually in the address bar of the browser.

OTP Scams

It is one the most common methods of scamming wherein a significant chunk of the population has fallen victim to. The common modus operandi involves calling the victim up and creating a make-believe story that their cards or accounts have been blocked and in order for them to start using them again, they would need to provide a simple OTP that they would be getting on their mobile phone. The victim innocently gives their OTP and within a matter of seconds, the funds are transferred to the criminal’s account leaving no trace.

Solution:

  • NEVER EVER give your OTP or bank card details to anyone on the phone or in person.
  • If you ever happen to receive such calls, make a note of the number and lodge a complaint with the nearest Cyber Cell Police Station

Identity Scams

A novel and unique approach wherein the perpetrator gains access to your identity details including photos and social media handles. Your identity is then set up which is then used to inadvertently cause nuisance in your social circle by spamming their inboxes with obscene material. Not only that, they also might very well have gained access, through social engineering, to all your accounts thereby having control of your bank accounts which is then used to siphon off money.

Solution: Beware of entering your credentials on any app or website that is found suspicious. Do not use an outdated anti-virus software.

SIM cloning scams

Another approach that involves making a duplicate yet functional SIM card. The process is fairly simple. The criminals target a particular segment of people who are highly active on social media flaunting their wealth and assets. They will have special hardware that will enable them to use the phone number provided there on such websites. Once the SIM is cloned, all OTPs shall then be sent to the clone SIM through which all the bank accounts are then drained.

Solution: Always ensure that your banking phone numbers are never ever disclosed on social media. Also, once the SIM is cloned, the original SIM becomes defunct. Keep an eye on your network. If it is down for more than half an hour, then immediately contact the service provider and ensure that your cards are all blocked to avoid further damage. Avoid all digital payments in the due course till the issue is resolved.

Card Skimming Scams

One of the most prevalent scams present both online and offline. A person X went to the ATM to withdraw amount. He was able to make the transaction but to his shock found out the very next day that his whole bank balance was emptied off. This happened because the scamsters used a skimmer that could make a copy of the card and its PIN that then was used to make both online ( using digital payments mode) and offline purchases.

Solution: Ensure that you don’t swipe your cards at suspicious looking ATMs. One of the key ways to identifying this is that the machine will have a protrusion in the card well and will be having a friction that will be much greater than the normal swipe well. Also, the keypads of the ATM shall be slightly bulged and will have paint on them instead of embossed keys.   

Follow the above five rules strictly while making digital payments and stay safe.

Abhijit Murthy B.Tech(Biotech), M.Sc(UK), LLB, PG Diploma in Cyber Laws

Abhijit Murthy spent his initial years in the field of molecular oncology before taking the plunge into the field of law and becoming an advocate at the honorable Bombay High Court. He is not only an avid technology lover and a cyber lawyer but also a passionate believer in making complex subjects available to common man.

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