In a country like ours where mobile numbers and addresses are for sale in bulk databases, the field is open for fake scam calls and cyber fraud. Few privacy laws make it difficult to screen the frauds from the real deal. The worst-hit are the elderly who may not be conversant with digital lingo.
Types of scam calls
In the interest of public awareness, we present the most common types of such scams, so you don’t fall prey to them, dear reader.
1. Investment fraud
By sourcing the contact details and available account information for savings or investment account holders, fraudsters can adopt the persona of an investment broker. They will then contact you to entice them with easy and profitable opportunities, but they seem a lot more trustworthy because they talk about accounts you already own and real results. Of course, they have bought the information on your investments from corrupt sources but you don’t know that!
2. Phishing scam
Phishing is a broad term for attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out your personal information – bank account number, passwords and credit card number, for instance. These scammers will contact you out of the blue, via email, text message, phone call or even through social media, pretending to be a legitimate business such as your bank or even internet provider.
The scammer may politely ask you to update them on your details so they can refresh their systems. Another scam call trick is to fill out a survey with the assurance of a free gift on completing it. This is where the scammer gets access to your email address, phone number etc.
Another way these scammers get hold of your information is to tell you that ‘unauthorised or suspicious activity has been happening on your account’, and they will then ask you for your information so they can “sort it out”. In fact, they are the ones who are going to steal from you.
3. Mobile banking and e-wallet
The surge in mobile wallet apps after demonetisation gave another opportunity for scammers to cash in. These calls could to be made to the elderly to “assist” them on getting a so-called “account” on BHIM / Paytm or other mobile wallet apps. A fraud executive calls you pretending to be from one of these reputed mobile banking and e-wallet companies, and declares that he will guide you through the registration process by taking your banking details. Ultimately, the aim of the scam calls is to gather confidential banking information.
4. Fake Income Tax officer
For an elderly citizen or a person who doesn’t fall into a tax bracket, getting a call from the Income Tax Department is next to impossible. Do not reveal any details to the so-called “IT officer” no matter how convincing he sounds.
How to deal with them
In reality, no banker will ever ask for any card or account-related details. Banks mostly communicate via email or would ask you to visit your registered branch. The best way to deal with scam calls is to ignore them or tell the caller that you will go to the bank to enquire about any problems. Disconnect within seconds. Never ever reveal any details about yourself.