Going digital has many advantages, but at the same time, it makes us more vulnerable to online fraud because of our increasing presence online. Online payments have made our lives very easy in the last few years, with the majority of customers, shops, and even small-time vendors preferring online payment methods over cash.
Scammers send fake SMS with short links to defraud individuals. Most of the scams are called phishing frauds that lead to the loss of money, and there are many instances where malware is also installed on the victims’ smartphones after they have clicked the short links provided by the scammers.It is interesting to note that SMS recipients open 98% of their text messages while email recipients only open about 20% of their messages
Phishing and psychological factors used by scammers:
Phishing is a method of trying to gather personal/sensitive information using deceptive phone calls, SMS, emails, blogs, and websites and then stealing the data or money from the victims. The analogy is of an angler throwing a baited hook (the phishing email) and hoping the victim will bite. Scammers use three methods to defraud people: (1) phone calls (called “vishing”), (2) SMS (called “smishing”), and (3) email (called “phishing”).
Scammers use psychological factors such as trust, ignorance, fear, greed, moral duty, urgency, panic, and anger to defraud their victims. In all the above cases, fraudsters reach the victims pretending to be official person, like a bank official or customer-care executive from a service-provider etc They may contact by text message, WhatsApp, social media, or phone call. Typically, these fraudsters ask the victim to confirm details by opening a short link and respond to whatever asked.
Few SMS/WhatsApp scam messages circulating in India:
1) Amount credited scam – Kindly acknowledge that your account is to be credited with Rs. 3000. Enter your information and check now (a bogus short link will be provided). Scammers claim they transferred funds in error and want a refund.
2) Electricity bill scam – Dear Customer: Your electricity will be disconnected tonight at 8:30 PM from the Electricity Office, because your previous month’s bill was not updated. Please immediately contact the officer (a fake number will be given). Thank you. Victims click on the short link and start paying the bill, thereby losing money.
3) Bankers’ update scam – Dear User, Your Y0NO SBI Net-Banking Account Will Be Suspended Today; Please Update Your PAN Card by Clicking Here (A Fake Short Link Will Be Provided).” Victims start giving personally identifiable data and entering the requested OTP, etc., and lose money as well.
4) Credit card due scam – Dear Customer, please pay your missed total amount due of Rs. 2786.74 or minimum amount due of Rs. 140 on your ICICI Bank credit card ending with 0003 using digital modes at our portal. Do it yourself (a fake short link will be given). Please ignore if already paid. Watch the UPI payment video at (a fake video link will be given) and the VPA ID creation video at (a fake video link will be given). Victims start giving personally identifiable data and entering the requested OTP, etc., and lose money as well.
5) Romance scam – Are you Feeling Alone in your life a sweet call can achieve your dreams, friendship -dating-partner is waiting for you. Call Neha (a fake number will be given). Victims begin providing personally identifiable information and getting engaged in explicit conversations, and as a result, they become victims of a blackmailing scam.
6) Lottery scam – Your mobile no has won Rs. 1.85 crore and car in awards by Hyundai Motor USA. To Claim send your names, mobile no, Address, JOB Reply to (Fake email will be given). Victims start giving personally identifiable data and entering the requested OTP, scan the QR code toward GST and gift taxes, etc., and lose money.
7) Cash-on-delivery scam – You get a message / call from a courier agency claiming that you have ordered on an e-commerce site on a “cash-on-delivery” basis, and they request an OTP either to receive the order or even to cancel it.
Few Tips to safeguard from SMS/WhatsApp message scams:
- Verify the short URLs or links using https://unshorten.it , even if they were sent by known sources.
- Check a website link twice before clicking it, and use isitphishing.org or www.urlvoid.com to ensure it is not a phishing link.
- Never send sensitive, personal, or proprietary information via email, regardless of who is asking for it.
- Check the complete headers of the email using https://mxtoolbox.com/EmailHeaders.aspx or https://dnschecker.org/email-header-analyzer.php
- Check how apps access your data. https://reports.exodus-privacy.eu.org/en/
- Verify the actual SMS sender by using https://smsheader.trai.gov.in/
- You will notice poor spelling and grammar throughout the email or SMS.
- note that links or forms asking for personal information (passwords and bank information)
- Never search for customer care numbers on search engines. Open the respective application’s website and get the correct customer care number.
- By scanning the QR code or entering the OTP, UPIN, bank card, and CVV numbers, the money gets debited not credited.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for all social media, banking, and email accounts.
- Never share your screen while doing banking or when logging onto social media or email accounts.
What to do when you are scammed :
The reason for the fraud happening is because of lack of digital literacy. When people give OTP or scan the QR Code , most consumers aren’t aware if it is for money getting credited or money getting debited. Report the scam to your local Cyber Crime Police authorities or register a complaint on https://www.cybercrime.gov.in or alternatively dial the toll free number 1930 immediately. 1930 is operated by Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System, Gov’t of India.