Unified Payments Interface or UPI has become a very common way to make money transfers and is the new hotshot of the digital payments’ world. Well, amidst all these exists the patent tricks to carry out scams underneath UPI.
Let’s know more about UPI Frauds, types of these frauds and ways to keep yourself safe from such shark moves.
UPI Payment Frauds – The Walkthrough!
In the present time, we all rely on digital transactions. Now that the world is struggling with covid-19, a cashless economy is on the go. Additionally, staying hawk-eyed to the kinds of loopholes is extremely crucial.
The speed and scale of UPI that carries today is beyond imagination. As per National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) – the government body that introduced UPI system in April 2016, 220 banks in India were actively using the UPI platform in April 2021. And there were over 2.7 billion transactions amounting to more than Rs. 5 lakh crores in March 2021.
UPI is the stepping stone of the current economy and speaking of security, it needs to be airtight. UPI transactions have hit high and not too much to our surprise, it is has become one of the most preferred methods to conduct payments. This has brought unwarranted attention of fraudsters too.
We all have seen the trail when it comes to online banking fraud, and it was very recent when HDFC Bank issued a warning for all its users. The alert made a noise, a loud one, mentioning fraudsters stealing money from the bank account of other users via UPI.
The exact number of UPI fraud cases in India is not available. The scale of the problem can be known from the disclosure by risk and fraud management division of Paytm in a national daily that it receives around 1300 payment related complaints daily – that’s half a million complaints annually from Paytm alone.
To understand the ways to protect ourselves from UPI frauds, it is important to be aware of the possible ways in which UPI Frauds are conducted.
Types of UPI Frauds in India
Staying vigilant is extremely crucial and you need to be aware of different kinds of UPI frauds in India that are happening around you. Some of the prominent ones linked to UPI Scamming are mentioned below: -
1. Phishing UPI Scams
This is one of the most common occurring UPI payment frauds in India. Fraudsters do a pretty good job by sending unauthorized links for payments through text messages, emails, etc. You are very likely to be mistaken when these fake bank URLs twin with the original ones.
Now, once these links are clicked, you will end up on a fake website. If you enter your UPI id and PIN to make the payment, these can be misused by fraudsters to steal money from your account using your UPI details.
In some cases, these fraud URLs may also induce malwares/ spyware on your phone to get your financial information.
2. Deceptive UPI handles
Scammers take advantage of the popular UPI handles that are in public domain and people are using to transfer money. They make similar looking UPI ids and circulate them widely on social media. Users may fall into this trap and end up transferring money into these fake UPI accounts.
Recent example of such malpractice is from 2020 Covid-19 induced lockdown in India. During this time, lot of people wanted to donate money to PM Care – a Government of India initiative, but there were many fake UPI ids doing rounds on social media. Several people lost their money. SBI bank also issued advisory on social media to warn public of such fake UPI handles.
3. Screen Monitoring Tools
Well, Work from home is the new mandate now. Screen Monitoring Tools such as AnyDesk, TeamViewer are nowadays a compulsory requirement which can easily be connected to your working device through internet.
Fraudsters are exploiting this moment. They call users and deceive them by posing as representatives from banks or other service providers. If users don’t have screen monitoring tools, they are asked to download these apps on their phones on pretext of resolving some issues or customer verification/ KYC. Once installed on your phone, these apps can grant fraudsters full access to your phone. They can read all your passwords, OTP messages and use them to make unauthorized transactions.
4. UPI Payment Requests
UPI users know that to pay using an UPI app, user has to enter UPI PIN and to receive money they are not required to enter any PIN. But fraudsters promising to pay user share 'send money' request in disguise of a 'collect money' request and fool users into entering their UPI PIN which deducts money from their accounts.
This UPI fraud has been common on e-commerce websites such as OLX where people list their products to sell. Fraudsters contact users posing as a buyer and accept to buy the products unconditionally by paying through UPI. Users are deceived into entering UPI PIN to receive money but they end up losing money. Make sure you also read the advisory by OLX to spot a fraud buyer.
How to file UPI Fraud complaint in India?
As soon as you have become a victim of an unauthorized UPI payment fraud, here is what you need to do.
- Directly file a complaint with your bank
- Inform your bank about the fraudulent transaction by calling the customer care. Make sure to note the complaint number.
- If calling doesn’t work, you can send an email or written letter to your bank branch manager.
- Reach out to your UPI payment platform
- Register a complaint with your payment platforms such as Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, etc. by calling their customer care.
- Complaint to cyber crime police
- Call on National Cyber Crime Helpline 155260 within 2 hours of the UPI payment fraud.
- After more than 2 hours of the fraud, log a complaint on National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. Enter all the details about the fraud. Investigating agency will look into this matter and try to recover your money. For more information read How to Report Cyber Crime online in India.
- You can also file an FIR directly at the nearest cyber police station.
How to prevent UPI Frauds?
Some of the common ways to protect yourself from UPI Frauds are: -
- Keep distance from fraudsters – Don’t engage yourself with fraudsters. Banks and service providers will never call you to ask for your sensitive information. It’s a red flag in case you receive a call from the bank asking you for personal details/ OTP/ PIN or getting you to download some app.
- Remember when to use PIN – Always remember that you need to enter UPI PIN only to send money. To receive money, you don’t have to enter any PIN.
- Spam warnings on UPI App – Google Pay and PhonePe give spam warnings to users when they detect a suspicious account. Keeping an eye out for such accounts and do not entertain any payment requests or messages from them.
- Big ‘NO’ to unsecured public Wi-Fi – Using unsecured public Wi-Fi is never a good idea. Hackers look for a chance to steal the necessary details out of your device when you are connected to the Wi-Fi. To know more about this menace, read How Public Wi-Fi is endangering your private life
- Unauthentic e-mails are not welcome –The most common way to trick users to download Malware and obtain information is done via E-mails. Therefore, it is a good idea to always scan your e-mails for any sort of viruses.
- Using tools to detect fraudulent attempts – Cybersecurity tools for your phone such as FinLock is a great option for protection against UPI Frauds. FinLock detects ‘collect’ UPI Payment requests that you receive through QR Codes and alerts you so that you don’t fall into the trap of scammers who will tell you that you will receive money from this transaction.
UPI-related frauds have become very eminent in the digital world where we have to rely on a fast mode of financial transaction. Beware, be conscious and most importantly, be ‘alert’ because these frauds are silent. They just attack you and keeping yourself safe by following the right guidelines is the only way that secures you and your credibility.