Mukund Pawar, inspector of police, Cyber Crime Cell talks about how to avoid the nets of phishing.
Why is phishing so rampant despite awareness?
Phishing usually occurs by two means - SMS and email. In SMSes, the offenders claim you have won a prize or a lottery. In emails, fraudsters usually claim you have got the job you had applied for. When you register for job alerts on websites and upload your profiles, offenders who hack into the websites can access your information. They then contact you, and some people respond without checking the authenticity of the email.
What about phishing scams where fraudsters claim a person has won a lottery or has inherited property/money?
In case of inheritance, offenders contact people stating they have won a huge amount or have inherited massive property in a foreign land. The user thinks he could get the land, establishes communication with the offender and willingly pays the nominal amount the offender asks for to send the 'inheritance documents'. Similarly, for lotteries, people assume that if they have a won a million-dollar lottery, they can easily pay the minuscule fee of Rs 50,000 to get the money.
What can the public do to avoid being victimised in such scams?
It's simple. If you have not purchased a lottery ticket, you cannot win a lottery. If you have no information about a foreign-based ancestor and have lived in the country all your life, you cannot possibly inherit money. If you have not applied for a job, you cannot get an appointment letter. People should first verify the genuineness of the messages they receive.
What are the police doing to create more awareness on the subject?
Statistics show college students are most vulnerable to such scams. So, we have been organising awareness programmes and lectures in colleges where we interact with young students with the view to creating cyber awareness.