Discover more from Khyaal
How can senior citizens identify and prevent online fraud
A blog written by Debashis Datta (Khyaal content community member)
Don't worry, be happy!
Actually, everything is very simple like your regular visit to the bustling local market. Or waiting at a zebra crossing until traffic stops on a busy road and then crossing to the other side. We are aware of how to protect our wallets and any valuables we wear such as an expensive ring or watch. How to be careful when a speedy vehicle whizzes past us. Similarly, we must follow some basic safety guidelines when using the internet or executing some transactions online.
Your laptop, desktop and smartphone are doorways to the vast virtual world of the internet. You don't even need to open the browser to access information; calls, messages or emails can be used by anyone to contact you. All of these external attempts of contact and your own attempts to reach out to a website or a person could give access to your sensitive personal information and documents, which may be misused for harmful purposes. Practise required safety measures and you will enjoy your virtual journey without worrying about fraud.
Below, we will talk about potential online frauds and how to avoid them.
Direct messages and calls
There are many messaging apps available today, including WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Share Chat, Telegram and Signal. Each of these apps, even the Short Messaging Service (SMS), could be used by others to contact you. Any sort of DM or direct message could be used by scammers to trick you. They may also make direct calls. In fact, calls and messages are usually used by online tricksters as their initial point of contact.
Work from home opportunities: You might get a direct message (DM) from a company or its representative suggesting some online work. Even though the company may have a website with extravagant claims, it is typically a scam. Maybe you'll get a call explaining how you can work just 3 to 4 hours each day and yet make a big income. For registration, you may have to fill out a form and pay some registration fees. This amount is nonrefundable and is the fraudster's main source of revenue. Then you will be asked to perform some work, related to MLM (Multi Level Marketing) or chain marketing. To recover your initial cost and then to earn a commission, you are to recruit a minimum of three people under you, each of whom must recruit three people under them, and so on. It is simple math to determine how much money you will earn if the chain beneath you increases exponentially. When there is no ever-expanding chain beneath you, your revenue will stop. Your connection or relationship with some of the applicants you bring on board with you could suffer because they might not even recover their initial cost of joining. To avoid this trap, neglect any such offer and never spend money as they say.
Gift from a foreign friend: Some of your international friends on social media might have a team (or at least one person) working for them in India right from the time of sending a friend request. Such foreign friends typically have decent personalities and may even claim to be reputable professionals. Their Facebook or Instagram profiles have several impressive images posted. After a year of exchanging greetings and sharing small talks, such a friend informs you that he or she has sent a gift for you. After that, you receive a call from the Delhi Airport Customs Office informing you that a gift from abroad has been received and that will be sent to your residence after paying a customs duty of Rs 30,000 to 40,000 via a UPI (Unified Payment Interface, like Paytm and Gpay). Upon payment, a very cheap gift is delivered if one has provided it at all. Never pay for any such gift. The only option to pay customs duty is online through the "Ice: Gate e-Payment gateway," which is managed by the government's Customs Department. Someone who requests any other form of payment is unquestionably a crook.
Following are the other types of frauds based on calls and messages that come in various forms:
Lottery wins or other monetary awards
You will get a notification claiming you have won money in a lottery or some other contest. To register, all you have to do is click on a URL or fill out a form with details about your bank account. Once you provide the details the fraudsters get access to your bank account.
False QR Codes For Payment
Social Media Friends: You accept a friend request on Facebook or Instagram from a stranger. You are overjoyed that your new friend knows you and admires you. After some time of friendship, your friend will tell you about a crisis and ask for some money on sympathy grounds. He or she will share a Paytm QR code, scanning which will result in all your savings lost from your bank account.
Never scan the QR codes of others. Offer cash that will be personally delivered if you wish to help someone.
Other Payment Requests
You might be prompted to scan other people's QR codes for the online sale of used cars, apartments, other products, donations or anything else intended as a planned trap, which could drain your money through your quick payment interface.
Study and Training Programs
Other risks include online courses with heavy discounts that use laypeople as lecturers, providing inadequate course materials and PowerPoint files and awarding you a useless certificate at the end. Only enrol in courses offered by reputable institutions if you wish to learn.
You can receive messages from some sources requesting that your bank needs your account information for the KYC update. You could also be informed that your ATM card has been blocked and has to be updated online. Your account number, card details for verification and lastly an OTP texted to your phone to complete the update will all be requested. If you share the OTP, a large sum will be deducted from your account.
We download some software programmes, or "apps," to perform some online activities with ease. These apps are a simple way for scammers to monitor the information you use or keep on your device. The majority of apps ask for permission to access your phone's or computer's calls, contacts, messages, images and other data. Once you agree to everything, these applications have access to your private chats and documents at all times. Therefore, if any of these apps are not from a reputable source, they could reveal your private information to scammers, who could use it to cause all kinds of trouble. Check the security and reliability of an app before downloading it.
On any social media platform, a loving woman or man will get close to you and exchange emotional texts and personal images with you. If you respond in a similar way, you can later face threats that your images, recordings, texts and other information will be shared with your family and friends until you pay a large sum of money.
Never engage in anything inappropriate or share improper content with friends online. Report to the cybercrime cell if someone is attempting to blackmail you.
Do not share even the most basic personal information such as your phone number, email address, and home address with anyone except reliable people and websites that you can truly trust.
Sharing personal data like your date of birth, bank account number, Aadhar card details, ATM card, credit card, etc. should be absolutely avoided.
You should set all of your social media accounts to private so that only your friends can access them. Lock your profile picture. Make friends with people whose honesty and sincerity you can vouch for. Hide your date of birth, email address and other personal information from everyone as a security measure against any fraudster unintentionally added to your friend list.
Set up two-step (or more) verification for your email and other online accounts, including your professional, personal and banking ones.
You shouldn't use the same password for several accounts, online or mobile banking, email and so on. Never use obvious passwords like your date of birth, month, year, name or home address. Additionally, you should never store a list of your passwords in your phone, email, Google account or wallet. Write down passwords on a piece of paper and keep them hidden in your home if you really want a backup.
Change passwords on a regular basis including those of ATM, Credit or other cards.
Never connect to a public wifi network. This is crucial because scammers can easily hack public wifi, which allows them to monitor all of your communications, financial activities and passwords. Instead, use the internet through your SIM card by choosing a service provider with a robust network.
When you are stuck for hours, you may have to use public wifi in an airport or similar location. In such cases, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) security to safeguard your internet usage. Generally speaking, a solid VPN is a paid service, however, some are free.
Install good antivirus software on your laptop and smartphone. It is recommended that you pay for it rather than using a free option.
When downloading any app, "The Google Play Store" app should be used. It has a "Google Play Protect" automatic system of checks that is turned on by default. By selecting the "Play Protect" option in the settings of your Google account, you can determine whether it is enabled or not. This enables Google to inform you if an app is secure or dangerous. Never install possibly dangerous apps.
Keep a separate bank account/prepaid card with a conservative amount just for online financial transactions; avoid using your primary bank account for them. It is recommended to do online financial transactions using a laptop or mobile phone that is kept at home. Otherwise, you might need to instantly block your cards, etc., in the case that your mobile is stolen or lost.
Never ever share any OTP received on your phone with anyone. No bank representative will request your OTP via audio calls or text messages. So, if someone asks you to share it with them, politely decline.
Don't ever click on a link that was supplied to you from an unreliable source. Look for links to genuine companies, banks and secure websites before clicking. Websites that are unsafe will be listed by your anti-virus software; pay attention to it.
The things listed above could seem a little terrifying. You may think the virtual world is filled with swindlers. It is not true in the sense that the online world is nearly as good or as bad as the real world around us.
Remember the online safety precautions to take and make an effort to adhere to them at all times, just like in the real world.
Put your palm over your heart and tell yourself, "All is well," as the lead actor in a well-known movie advised. Enjoy your time online!