People are losing money to Fraud on UPI Apps …
Say no to unknown UPI requests. Do not fall victim to new tactics used to steal money through UPI.
In India, the instant real-time payment system of UPI, i.e. Unified Payments Interface has gained huge popularity. The instant transfer of funds between two bank accounts on a mobile platform has facilitated people in many ways. On the other hand, there are some incidents where people are falling victims and losing money to certain types of fraud on various UPI Apps. So, it is important for users to be aware of how the fraudulent transactions take place and protect themselves from falling victims.
How Scammers Operate Fraud on UPI Apps
Reports lately reveal there are more than one-way scammers fraud unsuspecting users on UPI Apps. The common way is fraudsters taking advantage of the ‘Request Money’ option on UPI apps like Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), Google Pay, PhonePe etc. First, fraudsters send a ‘Collect’ request to the user on the pretext of making a payment using the UPI app. This request on the app shows 2 options either to ‘Pay’ or ‘Decline’. Unsuspecting users think they will receive funds and click on the ‘Pay’ option in the UPI app. However, once the UPI PIN is punched in, money from the user is transferred to the fraudster’s account.
Many users have lost money to such fraud on payment apps such as Google Pay and PhonePe that provide a platform for UPI transactions. Even online classifieds portals like OLX and the National Payments Corp. of India (NPCI) have witnessed related complaints of fraud.
Other Ways of Fraud on UPI
In another way of fraud, the scamster calls or chats online with the user claiming to be a representative of some platform and offers a cashback. The user is then engaged in discussion and asked to enter the PIN through the collection request – losing money thereafter. Some of these scammers operate stealing OTP for transaction. While talking to the user, they do not use the term ‘OTP’ and say it is a code you need to share to get the cashback (though the message alert on the user’s phone does mention OTP). Typically, these fraudsters contact individuals after they advertise to sell something on websites like OLX and Quickr.
Some of these scammers are also spreading fake customer care numbers for banks or UPI platforms. When a user calls these numbers, the fraudsters mange to extract sensitive information from them. Unsuspecting UPI users who already lost money to scamsters are more likely to contact such people out of dire need.
More recent technique of fraud involves taking unauthorized access to a victim’s mobile device and carry out fraudulent transactions via UPI. To establish this, the fraudsters contact unsuspecting users and use third party Apps like AnyDesk and Team Viewer. They act as bank’s representatives citing some issue and scare him saying your card and mobile banking will be blocked. Once the hacker convinces the user, they are asked to download an app to fix the problem. Scamsters use the remote device control app and steal money from the user’s account.
Necessary Precautions in UPI Transactions
Considering the reported cases of money theft on UPI apps and various ways of fraud operations, it is necessary for UPI users to be careful. It’s better to be safe and follow some precautions than being sorry later.
- Never share your PINs or OTPs with anyone. A PIN is needed only for transferring amounts, not while receiving.
- Remember, you do not need to authorize a transaction if money is being transferred to your account.
- Know the difference between an ID, PIN and OTP.
- Be skeptical when someone calls you offering freebies like cashbacks.
- Say no to unknown UPI requests and decline payment request if you suspect fraud. Remember, UPI apps also have pay, decline and block options.
- Alert your service provider if you come across any potential spam and fraud.
- UPI apps like Google Pay have security features to help users identify requests from high-risk users and a ‘spam warning’ is shown to the recipient.
- If you get any suspicious text message carrying a link or phone number in the name of a banking institution, visit your nearest bank branch to confirm it. Banks or financial institutions do not usually make such calls or send SMS of such nature.
- Always be sure to follow the basic rules of conducting safe online transactions. Be alert and attentive while using UPI apps and stay safe from fraudsters.
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