Online Frauds that Seniors Need to be Alert About – Know the Types & Precautions

Online Frauds – Types & Precautions

In today’s times of high technology usage, it is important that our seniors are aware of existing tricks and scams to avoid financial losses and maintain safety. Caring for your financial safety along with physical well being, we are releasing a short series on online frauds.

1) Phone call scams

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a) Bank calls: The criminal would call as a bank employee and that ‘your debit/card has got blocked or similar problems’ and would ask details like – Card number, expiry date, CVV, Account number, OTP or PIN and other information for re-activating the card.

b) Government calls: People claim to call from government offices like pension office, income tax department, judiciary office, transport department, police station etc. They would reimburse a hefty fine/submit fees to extend services like pension and would send warning emails from illegitimate mail ids sources.

Such calls often create a panic situation and compel the elderly to disclose their private information.

Preventive measures:

1. Never disclose bank details – Card number, Expiry Date, CVV, OTP / PIN over a call to any person.

2. Tell the caller that you will go to the bank and check the details and disconnect the call within seconds.

3. Authorized bank employees or government officials usually call to sell insurance or loans. They will never ask for your bank details over the call.


2) Phishing Scams:

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Scammers send unknown emails, messages, notifications, links to trick you into giving them your personal information. The emails and messages look like they have come from sources you trust like – banks, credit card companies, social networking sites, online payment websites or apps or online stores.

The phishing emails or messages often look genuine to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may ask for a password, your debit card or credit card / net banking details, sell goods at huge discounts, or ask to renew the subscription, renew bank account lapses, renew insurance, buy new insurance policy etc.

Once you give out the information, they can access your email, bank accounts and other accounts.

Preventive measures:

1. Protect your computers and mobiles with security software. Put them on automatic update mode.

2. Protect your accounts with multi-factor authentication which means it requires two or more details for access. You can add passcode via text message or fingerprint scans etc.

3. Protect your data by backing them up in a hard drive or cloud storage.

4. Always download apps from trustworthy sources like Google, Playstore or Apple Appstore.

5. Immediately complain at Google or Playstore or the parent website from which the link of malicious website is provided.

6. Always check the URL on the top of the browser, if it matches exactly with the URL of a known website. Usually, website beginning with “https” are secure for transaction or browsing.


3) QR Code & KYC Scam

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a) QR Code Scam:

Fraudsters have found an innovative method to trick people by faking Quick Response (QR) codes to steal money. They appear as buyers and share a QR code over WhatsApp asking for the code to be scanned to receive money. After scanning the code and entering the PIN, the money gets transferred into the fraudster’s account.

b) KYC Scam

The fraudster sends messages for KYC verification and warns that the Paytm account will get blocked if verification is not done. When calling for support, you are redirected to an online KYC verification system.

Here, you will be asked to download apps like Team Viewer and Quick Support which actually grant control of your mobile to the fraudster. Then you will be asked to put your login details of Paytm account and make a transaction to complete verification.

Now the fraudster gains full access to your bank information.

Preventive measures:

1. Always keep in mind that you never have to scan QR codes to receive money. It is only used to make payments.
2. Avoid scanning QR codes in public shops or when sent on your mobile via emails or messages.

In case you need to make payment in a shop, type the number and make the payment. Also, verify the name you are making payment to with the business owner at the verification step.

3. Do not download unknown apps for any kind of verification process. Always call your bank and clarify the matter first.

4. Report the matter to cybersecurity with details.

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4) Social Media Scams

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a) Impersonation fraud

Fraudsters create accounts similar to a person in your friend list on social media and send friend requests and messages. On receiving a response, they ask money for help citing reasons which are hard to disbelieve.

They also track your complaints against any bank/company made on social media and contact you impersonating as authorized employees to extract your confidential information and trick you to steal money.

b) Honey Traps

Fraudsters on social media apps target middle-aged females or vulnerable people and establish trust by talking to them for 3-4 months. they could be belonging to the same groups you are associated with. After gaining trust, they exchange private numbers, whose SIMs are registered under fake names. Then they weave fake stories and ask for monetary help.

In many cases, especially in matrimonial sites, the fraudsters are foreign nationals. they pretend to be suitable grooms or possible business ventures and develop trust with regular chatting and sympathetic behaviour. Then they claim to have send gifts for and ask them to pay customs charges and clearance fees charges to collect the gifts. In this manner, they try to steal money and dupe the victim.

Preventive measures:

1. Always keep your account private on social media.

2. Never share any personal information like mobile number, bank details on social media while addressing a complaint on organisation’s public pages.

3. Do not click on unknown links and be very careful that you are being directed to official pages only.

4. Do not interact with unknown people over social media and even if you do, never reveal details about your personal life or confidential information.

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