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Doing online transactions to avoid Coronavirus? Disinfect your system first

Amitava Chakrabarty
Coronavirus, Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, Coronavirus outbreak, work from home, online transaction, ATM, online fraud, Identity Theft, Phishing, Tele Calling Scams, Fake Payment Links, QR Codes, KYC Fraud, malware, tracking software, WiFi, anti-virus, anti-spyware

To contain the spread of highly infectious Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, it is advised to maintain social distancing by avoiding visiting crowded places as much as possible. Along with working from home to ensure avoiding non-essential travel, one of the measures recommended is to avoid crowded marketplaces by ordering things online from home through e-commerce sites. You may avoid even going to an ATM and/or bank by doing transactions online.

However, you need to ensure that, while doing online transactions from home to avoid Coronavirus, you don’t end up losing money to fraudsters.

It is a big concern, because according to a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report, Indian banking system detected Rs 71,500 crore worth of frauds in financial year 2018-19.

With the increase in the number of online transactions especially after demonetisation, instances of cyber frauds have gone up at an alarming rate. With Coronavirus locking people up in their homes, forcing them to transact online, the fraudsters will also be proactively on the prowl.

So, you must be aware of the different types of frauds and how to stay protected against such frauds.

Some types of online payment frauds are as follows:

Identity Theft: It occurs when a fraudster obtains and uses your personal information for fraudulent purposes, which may cost you dearly.

Phishing or Tele Calling Scams: Under this, fraudsters try to bait unsuspecting users into sharing their personal information under false pretenses by sending emails or calling on behalf of seemingly legitimate sources like-regulators, banks, insurance companies, financial institutions etc.

Fake Payment Links and QR Codes: This happens when fraudsters send 'pay request' link or a fake QR code on the pretext of transferring money to an unsuspecting person through e-wallets like Paytm, PhonePe etc and digital payment options like UPI and Google Pay etc. If you authorise such transactions without verifying properly, money would get debited from instead of being credited to your account.

KYC Fraud: Under this, pretending to be employees of a bank or other financial institutions, fraudsters send seek the customers' details for updating KYC either over a call or by sending a fake link. If you share your personal and financial details along with OTP, the fraudsters may transfer funds from your account to their own accounts or conduct online transactions using your details.

To ensure that you don’t end up losing money while doing online transactions to stay protected against Coronavirus, you first need to disinfect your computer and/or laptop by removing computer virus like malware, tracking software etc, which are usually disguised as attachments and in some cases are programmed to auto install if clicked or downloaded.

Apart from staying alert, use the following to stay protected:

  • To protect your devices from such malwares, you may install reliable anti-virus and anti-spyware and periodically update the software.
  • Ensure that the websites you use for financial transactions are encrypted with https in URL and you type the URL on the browser instead of clicking on links sent to you through email, chat or any other way.
  • Don’t use public WiFi or any open network for financial transactions.
  • Erase all personal and/or financial information from your device before you dispose it off.