Every fraud begins with a belief. Ask any victim of financial fraud and they will agree. They will tell you how they believed the fraudster was a genuine person. With the rise of financial products and emergence of new payment channels, tricksters too have upped their game. Combining glib phrases and Machiavellian manoeuvres, conmen have devised new ways to take money from you. Here are three new ways they will attempt to trick you and what you can do to escape their deception.

Portfolio Podcast| How to dodge new financial frauds  Portfolio Podcast| How to dodge new financial frauds  
Credit card fee waiver

Outstanding credit cards rose by 14 per cent to 6.9 crore in 2021. Many people living in cities have at least one credit card per household. Credit cards usually charge an annual fee. Most people take cards when they are promised no fee, but the charge returns from the second year. Hence, fraudsters call up gullible people with fake lifetime credit card annual fee waiver offers. Tricksters, claiming to be bank representatives, will call on your mobile phone and claim they can waive off fee since the customer is a valuable one or has been selected following some process. Once they win the trust of the credit card holder, they will disclose the credit card number and name. If you are wondering how they would have got the card details, such information is procured from illegal sources. Once these are confirmed, the conman will claim that the One-Time Password (OTP), sent to the card holder’s mobile phone, is required to register the lifetime card fee waiver request. Once the OTP is procured, the call will be disconnected, saying the fee has been waived off! That is also the last time you will hear from him or her. Pretty soon, the card holder will receive SMSes alerting to debit transactions running into tens of thousands.

Dos and don’ts

Be cautious while responding to calls from strangers claiming to be your bank.

No bank representative will disclose your credit card number. If they do, immediately call credit card customer care and block the card.

Fraudsters can get card details, but transactions can happen only with confidential OTP. Don't share OTP with anyone.

Fake account number scam

The modus operandi of this fraud is based on convincing you that are you doing a legitimate payment. Imagine you are walking down the road and see the roadside stall of a life insurance company. The moment you go and enquire about the insurance plan, the fraudster pretending to be an employee will claim that this stall is for launching a brand-new insurance policy, with a ‘if you transact today, you can get a good discount on the premium’ offer to boot! The offer will be too good to resist with add-ons such as life insurance cover of ₹15 lakh at ₹5,000 annual premium for the whole family. If you say that you want some time to consider, they will offer ₹1,000 on-the-spot discount for instant premium payment. To enable this, the conman will give you full details of a bank account and share an instant receipt as well when you pay the premium. As you will later find out, all details such as employee credentials, receipt or any insurance document will be fake. They will even promise that the original policy will reach your home within two weeks!

Dos and don’ts

Cross-check employee credentials before engaging in any financial transaction with a stranger.

Buy financial products from the company's branch or registered offices, or through verified app/website.

Verify the bank account is registered with the company before making any payment.

Phoney vaccination call

Swindlers design frauds around the latest events. The fake vaccination call is one of them. Pretending to be from the local health centre, they will call unsuspecting people and offer Covid vaccination facility at home. If you say Covid vaccination appointments are done through COWIN app, they will say that home vaccination facility is not on the app. What's more, this will be offered at no extra charge. All that you have to do, according to the scamster, is 'verify' your address, mobile and PAN! Unfortunately, many people fall victim and disclose personal data such as Aadhaar number, PAN etc. Next, the conman will tell them that a registration code, in the form of OTP, will be sent to their phone, which is required for vaccine registration; the OTP will also have to be shared with healthcare officials when they come home to administer the vaccine. After the OTP is shared, the call is disconnected. Within the next few minutes, a legitimate SMS from a bank or NBFC with an approval message for a loan application is received. Many a time, disbursal also happens fast through the UPI channel. Thus, the fake vaccination calls were an elaborate ploy to get innocent people to share their Aadhaar and PAN, and a loan taken on their behalf, making them liable to pay it back.

Dos and don’ts

Don’t share critical personal information such as Aadhaar, PAN, etc with strangers anywhere.

PAN-card based OTP is used for availing various financial services and therefore do not give such info to anybody.

Read the entire SMS containing OTP to understand the true intent. If words like loan application are found in the SMS, stop then and there.