Last week, Aarti received a call from her father. He was anxious about the endless text messages he was receiving about their electricity bill being overdue. While, in fact, he had already paid the dues earlier in the month. The last SMS warned of a power-cut if the bill amount wasn’t transferred to the stated bank account without delay. Aarti immediately sensed that something wasn’t right. She told her father to ignore the texts. However, she realized she couldn’t leave it at that as such scams or other types of frauds could happen in the future as well. Aarti felt it was essential to educate her parents about various financial frauds and how to deal with them.

If you too have come across such scams and wish to protect your parents, relatives and friends from such fraudulent schemes, read on. We have prepared a list of common scams and ways to stay clear of them:

  • Calls to complete KYC details
    KYC compliance has become a must for almost every financial service in India. This process can be completed through established online and offline modes. If you get a call to verify your  details for KYC compliance, beware. No government agency, bank or any other intermediary would make such unsolicited phone calls especially ‘seeking confidential information’. This applies not only to KYC but any other process. Sharing your sensitive banking details or clicking on any links from unknown people should be a complete ‘NO’.
  • Unsecure email attachments and mobile applications
    Most of the time, we don’t even realise that we are being tricked into downloading fake apps and email attachments. A simple SMS with a link to buy medicines at a discounted rate or an offer to watch your favorite series online, may contain a virus that harms your device. The link may even take you to a website which looks pretty much like an official website and is designed to collect and misuse your credentials. A wise practice would be to verify the domain name (address) of the website (for e.g. a fake website may go by the domain ‘k0tak’ or ‘kolak’ instead of ‘kotak’). Also, check if the website address has the preface ‘https’ and not ‘http’ and watch out for poor spelling and grammar in the page content. As a general rule, always use the official website address and in our case, use the url to access Kotak Bank’s website.
  • Fake charities
    Deceiving people by seeking their money for a cause has become a common modus-operandi. Although cold calls and door-to-door charity drives are common, one should be cautious before donating money. Research about the entity, be mindful about the mode of payment (avoid making cash payments to unknown organisations) and most importantly, do not let anyone rush you into making a donation.
  • Bogus lottery winnings / offers
    Calls, texts and emails informing people that they have won a lottery or a cash prize in a contest have become notoriously common. Here, scammers attempt to dupe their potential victims by asking for a  marginal fee to process the full amount. Remember, there are no free lunches in the world! You cannot win a contest you didn’t take part in. Even if you did, you never have to pay a price to claim your jackpot. Essentially, stay clear of requests to send a cheque or sharing sensitive banking details like passwords and OTPs in such cases.
  • Bill payment requests from unknown sources to pay bills
    Like in the case of Aarti’s father, a bill payment scam can target anyone. Victims are asked to share their bank details or click on a link in order to process their bill payment. However, firms providing utilities and services like electricity, telecom, cable, online subscriptions generally have their own secure portals for online bill payments. As a general principle, refer to the official communication (website or the bill copy) instead of trusting a stranger with your money. Preferably, opt for automatic bill payments and get complete peace of mind!

Parents may get deceived by illegal tactics of scammers, that others may find easy to see through. They are treated as soft targets as usually, they may lack the correct information and judgment to spot suspicious activities.

A thumb rule that parents and everyone should follow is NOT to share sensitive banking information or click on links received from unknown sources. Stop, think and shield yourselves from such scams. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry!