Demonetisation effect: Watch out for virtual pickpockets | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Demonetisation effect: Watch out for virtual pickpockets

In the mad rush for cash in these desperate times of demonetisation, one bunch of people are profiting — online scamsters looking to make the most of an economy still learning the ropes of mobile wallets and e-transactions

mumbai Updated: Dec 22, 2016 11:14 IST
HT Correspondent
Fraudsters are cashing in on the frenzy as people have become more vulnerable.
Fraudsters are cashing in on the frenzy as people have become more vulnerable.(HT)

In the mad rush for cash in these desperate times of demonetisation, one bunch of people are profiting — online scamsters looking to make the most of an economy still learning the ropes of mobile wallets and e-transactions.

In the weeks since the Centre scrapped the high-value banknotes of Rs500 and Rs1,000, a large part of urban India is getting used to buying and paying for everything online — from fruits and vegetables to rides to work — in a bid to conserve scarce cash. The government too has been pushing for more of India to go cashless with numerous incentives.

But in the scramble and desperation, questions about how secure these new-age systems are have got lost. Fraudsters are cashing in on the frenzy as people have become more vulnerable..

The police report receiving complaints of con calls that ask people for debit card details, stating they could be blocked. “They claim to be calling from the Reserve Bank of India and other banks. They convince their victims, take the information they need and then empty their accounts. Such scamsters are quickly taking their crimes to e-wallets,” said an officer with cybercrime unit.

Online wallets are exposed as their functioning is still too new, too unorganised. They also lack some basic security features such as a know your customer (KYC) verification system. They also use a mobile number to be set up. “There is no cap on the number of e-wallet apps that can be operated on a single mobile number, which means fraudsters use forged documents to duplicate mobile numbers and empty out accounts.

Sources in the police department said they have written to the RBI, requesting providing stricter rules to monitor online wallets.

“The fraudsters are cashing in on panic-striken card holders. Many of the victims are middle-aged or senior citzens who are less tech savvy,” said Sachin Patil, the deputy commissioner of police (cyber cell).

Patil said one way to prevent getting duped is not give out card numbers pins or CVV numbers and OTPs to anybody asking for this information over the phone. Also, learning how to use an e-wallet will help. “Gathering operational knowledge of e-wallets and being cautious while conducting online transactions is the key to safety when dealing with money electronically,” Patil said.

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