We live in the age of digital fraud. In the last three financial years, the RBI reports that India has been the target of thousands of digital fraud schemes. Unfortunately, the number of such frauds changed only incrementally during this period. The reality is that consumers are still learning to how to safely navigate the digital marketplace. Since the responsibility for online security lies squarely on the consumer, it is appropriate to abide by the old adage, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
So, here are 10 important rules to scam-proof your digital life:
1. Avoid utilising telephone customer service representatives to complete payment transactions. In order to save time, more and more people readily agree to have an unknown person at the end of a phone line enable certain processes. In the insurance industry, for example, consumers put themselves at risk by attempting to address sensitive matters by phone or via phony portals. Consider making face-to-face appointments and review paperwork carefully.
2. Do not download apps recommended by people you don’t know and trust unless they are from official sources.
3. Do not trust emails with links from the income tax department asking for your bank account or card details. The income tax department directly credits refunds to the bank account mentioned in your I-T return form. Dismiss phone calls and avoid clicking on any messages, links, or online forms requesting additional account/card details.
4. Do not click on links received through SMSes. Instead, rely on official websites or bank branches to complete any process necessary.
5. Maintain safe passwords. According to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, the most hacked password, as well as the most common, is 123456. Get creative. Use upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
6. Look for verified-by-twitter blue ticks when interacting with banks, payment wallet helplines, as well as the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
7. Get familiar with UPI-based apps. New technology can be confusing. UPI-based apps offer touch technology to push (pay/send) and pull (receive/collect) transactions. Understand the processes thoroughly before attempting to use them.
8. Check for security features when making online payments on a website. Look for the padlock icon in the address bar. It should be secured by CC Avenue or Verisign.
9. Use a secure computer. Never make payments from a computer that others can access.
10. Monitor all accounts carefully, in order to quickly catch discrepancies in balance amounts.
By heeding these fundamental safeguards, we can make this the year India sees drastic declines in cybercrime.