Online frauds: Ten tips to protect yourself from the ever-evolving threat

Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg recently said that India's digital economy was expected to touch the $1-trillion mark by 2022. As the scope of the country’s digital economy widens – as with every technological advancement – the increasing use of digital transactions also brings the high risk of online frauds.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, as a recently released survey revealed, nearly one in four Indians has directly experienced fraud at least once while transacting online. The report suggested that greater digital convenience was linked to higher fraud exposure – presenting a problem for both consumers and businesses.

Here are a few tips that could help you make safe transactions online:

1. Use smart apps: As reported by Business Standard a few months earlier, fintech players are coming up with counter-measures to prevent online and banking frauds. There are several apps available now that allow people to enable and disable their debit and credit card usage. Apart from this, these apps also provides other safety features, such as:

* Blocking transactions above a certain value

* Restricting channels where the card could be used – e-commerce websites, ATMs, POS terminals, or foreign transactions, among others

2. Block you card immediately if you lose it: In case your card is stolen or misplaced, you should immediately get the card blocked by contacting your bank. The fastest way to contact your bank is through its mobile banking app.

3. Be vigilant when using the card: Experts advise that you should never let your card out of sight when using it at a shop or restaurant. Have it swiped in your presence, as there is always the risk of your data being stolen using a skimmer.

4. Enable international transaction option only when abroad: Two-factor authentication is not required abroad, making it easier for fraudsters to misuse your card. Once a hacker has obtained your card details, such as the name, card number, expiry date and CVV, he can misuse it easily.

Therefore, it is advised that you disable the international transaction option on your card when you are in the country. This can be done through the bank's net banking channel.

5. Avoid paying online on little-known websites: However professional and genuine an e-commerce website might look, one should avoid making online payments on little-known ones. “Shoppers need to be diligent while shopping online on websites that are not established. The simplest way to check their credentials is to do a generic search by typing the name of the website. If others have been tricked, you will come across buyers’ grievances,” Prashant Mali, an advocate and international cyber law and cyber security expert, told Business Standard.

6. Regularly update your computer and mobile security: The best way to prevent frauds through viruses and malware is to keep your security software, web browser, and operating system up to date.

7. Avoid phishing scams: Most people regularly receive on their cell phones fraudulent emails and messages trying to trick them into disclosing their financial details. It is best to avoid such scams and refrain from clicking or opening attachments that come with them.

8. Set strong password: When asked to set passwords, you should always set a strong one with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

9. Read privacy policy: Before making an online transaction, it is recommended that you read the website's privacy policy. The policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects.

10. Use secure internet connections: An unsecure public wi-fi connection can also be a problem as others can monitor your activity and gain access to your computer or smartphone. Therefore, if you are going to make a payment online, be sure that you are on a secure private connection.


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