You may soon start getting messages from banks and financial institutions starting with 140 followed by three more digits for commercial and promotional activities. As of date, these messages are emanating from a 10 digit mobile number.

This is part of a measure, discussed in a meeting, chaired by Financial Services Secretary Vivek Joshi with stakeholders from 12 organisations on Cyber Security in the Financial Services Sector and Online Financial Frauds. The meeting was called cyber security in the financial services sector and was held to discuss, the increasing incidents of recent online financial frauds.

“Banks and financial institutions are required to phase out, the use of regular 10-digit numbers and use specific number series such as ‘140xxx’ for commercial/ promotional activities as prescribed by TRAI,” a Finance Ministry statement said. Other measures, discussed, included onboarding of Banks/ Financial Institutions on the Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System (CFCFRMS) platform, through API integration.

It was also proposed to integrate the CFCFRMS platform with the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) with the aim to centralise the platform which will enable effective collaboration between the police, banks and financial institutions, allowing for real-time monitoring and prevention of fraudulent activities.

“Ensuring round-the-clock availability of resources, to promptly address complaints, will improve fraud-to-hold ratio,” said, the statement. At the same time, it was also discussed to formulate an action plan/ SoP for returning of funds to the victim from fraudulent accounts. “Banks and financial institutions are required to conduct additional customer awareness and sensitisation programmes in regional languages on the security of digital payments,” the statement said, while also suggesting sharing of information by banks/ financial institutions in a standardised format, for ease of analysis by the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).

The meeting took stock of the action points, which emerged during the discussion in the last meeting and reviewed the preparedness of the banks and other financial institutions in tackling the challenges, arising from cyber security in the financial services sector, thereby, increasing the trend of digital payment frauds and readiness of all the concerned stakeholders in this regard.

The meeting discussed progress. It was informed that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has developed ASTR, an AI/ML based engine, to detect mobile connections taken on fake/ forged documents. About 1.4 lakh mobile handsets, either linked to the disconnected mobile connections or misused in cyber-crime /financial frauds have been blocked.

The Department of Telecommunications analysed 35 lakh principal entities sending bulk SMSs. Out of these, 19,776 principal entities who were involved, in sending malicious SMSs, were blacklisted, 30,700 SMS headers and 1,95,766 SMS templates were also disconnected. Pratibimb portal, on which SIM and IMEI of the suspected fraudsters are plotted on a real time basis, has enabled the law enforcement agencies to utilise the information to identify and locate the suspects. Till date, more than 500 arrests have been made and around 3.08 lakh SIMs were blocked. Around 50,000 IMEIs were blocked, 592 Fake Links/APKs and 2,194 URLs were also blocked since April 2023, according to the statement.