RBI warns against SMS, email, IM, calls and OTP scams, check precautions

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oi-Vipul Das

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has warned individuals against fraud through SMS, email, instant messaging, phone calls and one-time passwords (OTPs). The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has published a brochure entitled “BE(A)WARE – Be Aware and Beware!” to raise awareness of fraudulent transactions in which fraudsters use various methods to obtain a person’s confidential information, making that person a victim of the scam.

RBI Pens Precautions against SMS, Email, IM, Call and OTP Scams

“There has been an increase in the use of digital payment methods over the past few years. This has further accelerated during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns. While improving customer convenience, it has also fostered the financial inclusion goal. However, as the speed and ease of conducting financial transactions has improved, the number of reported frauds in retail financial transactions has also increased. Fraudsters have used innovative methods to defraud ordinary, gullible people of their hard-earned money, especially new entrants to using digital platforms who are not fully familiar with the techno financial ecosystem,” RBI said in the brochure. Here, we’ll look at the most prevalent fraud cases including SMS, email, instant messaging, phone calls, and one-time password (OTP) scams, and find out what the RBI has to offer. say about them.

SMS / e-mail / instant messaging / fraudulent calls

Here are the modes of operation adopted by fraudsters according to the RBI to carry out SMS/Email/Instant Messaging/Call scams.

  • Fraudsters spread fake messages in IM/SMS apps/social media platforms about attractive loans and use logo of any known NBFC as profile picture in mobile number shared by them to induce credibility.
  • Fraudsters can even share their Aadhaar/Pan Card and fake NBFC ID.
  • After sending such mass messages/SMS/Emails, scammers call random people and share fake sanction letters, copies of fake checks etc. and demand various charges. Once the borrowers pay these fees, the scammers run away with the money.

Precautions to be taken according to RBI

  • Never believe loan offers made by lonely people over the phone/emails etc.
  • Never make payment against such offers or share any personal/financial identifying information against such offers without verifying their authenticity by other sources
  • Never click on links sent by text/e-mail or respond to promotional text/e-mail.
  • Never open/reply to emails from unknown sources that contain suspicious attachments or phishing links.

OTP based scams

According to the RBI, fraudsters use the following means for OTP scams.

  • Fraudsters pretending to be NBFCs, send SMS/messages offering loans or credit limit improvement to NBFC/bank customers’ loan accounts, and ask customers to contact them on a mobile phone number.
  • When customers call these numbers, the scammers ask them to fill out forms to collect their financial credentials. Fraudsters then trick/convince customers into sharing OTP or PIN details and perform unauthorized transfers from customers’ accounts.

Precautions to be taken according to RBI

  • Never share OTP/PIN/personal information etc. in any form with anyone including your own friends and family members.
  • Regularly check SMS/emails to ensure that no OTP is generated without your knowledge.
  • Always go to the official website of the bank / NBFC / e-wallet provider or contact the branch to avail their services and/or seek information and clarifications on products and services.

The program “BE(A)WARE – Be aware and beware!” brochure, which informs about numerous fraud events, can be downloaded here. The brochure was developed by the Office of the Ombudsman, Mumbai-II, as part of the public awareness effort of the Education and Consumer Protection Department of the Reserve Bank of India. According to RBI, “The brochure aims to educate members of the public on the modus operandi adopted by fraudsters to defraud and mislead them, while also informing them of the precautions to be taken when carrying out financial transactions. It puts the emphasis on keeping personal information, especially financial information, confidential at all times, be wary of unknown calls/emails/messages, exercise due diligence when performing financial transactions, and change secure credentials/passwords from time to time.

Article first published: Wednesday, March 23, 2022, 9:22 a.m. [IST]

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