Feb 11, 2013 12:01 PM IST | Source:

Avoid falling prey to internet fraud: 3 handy tips

Internet banking fraud and ways to avoid is undoubtedly a topic that has been done to death. And yet, people across country continue to lose money in such frauds with an alarming frequency.

Runjhun Noopur
Akosha is an online
consumer forum

Internet banking fraud and ways to avoid is undoubtedly a topic that has been done to death. And yet, people across country continue to lose money in such frauds with an alarming frequency.  Recent reports of a businessman in Bombay losing over 2 lakhs within 24 hours and Maharashtra Banking Ombudsman refusing to intervene in another internet banking fraud case (See full story  Lost In A Click, Lost Forever) leaving the harried consumer in lurch brought forth the urgency of a refresher course on the precautions you must be taking if you have an internet banking account. We bring you a lowdown on the basics.

Phishing Alert- Banks almost regularly warn and advice their customers against phishing scam. Phishing is a technical name for the scam in which fraudsters send authentic looking emails, purportedly coming from your bank that ask for your passwords and such other details. Despite the fact that people are warned not to send their details in response to any such emails or click on any links that may have been sent via such emails. And yet, even though it looks and feels like a no brainer, people still fall into this trap.
These are bare basics. Never ever click on any links that are supposedly sent by your bank even if they look absolutely authentic. Type out the address of your bank in the browser and check the homepage. Most banks have a policy of not sending such communications to their customers or seeking account related information from customers through email.

Be aware of the communication policy of your bank and be at guard against anything that looks even remotely suspect. Always remember, if your bank wants you to do something, they will ask you to first log on into your banking account instead of offering to do it for you or send you links to do the same.

Stolen Passwords/Hacked Accounts- Hacking accounts and stealing passwords constitute the basics of online frauds and consequently, the basics of online security. An updated anti-virus is a no brainer as well as the fact that unless someone will die if you don’t access your bank account, you should never access your bank account on a public network.

Also, there is a reason why a longer password with mixed characters is always advocated. Longer passwords are difficult to hack and having combinations of letters and numbers that do not use standard words that can be found in dictionary that can be guessed by a computer program trying out endless combinations of real words and numbers, makes them automatically preferred. You should also, ideally change the password frequently to prevent them from being compromised.

Save Your Smartphones- Smartphones are convenient and help us get a lot of things done far more quickly and effectively. But if that lot of thing includes stuff that involves internet banking transactions, it is time to beware. Every single principle that is applicable to using online banking using a laptop or a desktop is applicable to the smartphones. Keep your security system updated. Never trust any SMSs that are supposedly sent by your Bank and ask you to download softwares for various purposes. If you have to absolutely install anything, contact your bank and confirm. It doesn’t take long and can save you a lot of heartburn in the long run. Don’t access internet on public wi-fis, however tempting it may seem. Always remember, smartphones are rapidly emerging as fraudsters’ dream simply because most consumers don’t take time to be careful enough.

The list of precautions above is pretty basic and as we said earlier, has been repeated infinite number of times. And yet, history of such scams in the recent past clearly indicates that we cannot emphasize the importance of these precautions enough. Once a consumer falls prey to such a scam, it is indeed a painful walk through hell. Most banks are unwilling to take responsibility and even if they do, it is only after a harassing long while. Even the Banking Ombudsmen have been usually found unwilling to grant relief in such cases as they by design are not equipped to handle cases that fall in the cyber crime category.

The bottom line is that consumers’ vigilance is their only hope and this is one area where prevention is not just better, but probably the only cure.

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