Online scams have been on the rise in India for the last 5-6 years, as UPI and online transactions have grown in popularity.
Take these precautions before sending money to someone online.
Let us look at some of the basic checks and precautions we must take to avoid online fraud when transferring money online to someone for the purpose of booking tours, trips, hotels, or shopping. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Search Google for the Number/Company Name
At times, a simple search of the person’s phone number or email address can reveal a wealth of information. If the same person has cheated others, there is a good chance you will be given some advice.
In Google, the same phone number is registered for multiple businesses. It’s a clear case of online fraud and scams.
Instead of UPI, use NEFT/IMPS transfers.
UPI is quick and safe, but it’s only helpful if you’re sending money to the right person.
The issue with UPI is that it MASKS the person’s details and only provides you with a scan code or basic information that does not reveal much about the person. If in doubt, always request the bank details to transfer money via NEFT or IMPS.
This will at the very least provide you with information such as a bank account, the name of the account holder, the branch, and so on. You can use this to easily verify or complain later at the bank. Furthermore, the bank account must be in the name of the same person.
Don’t Be Hasty
Never make rash decisions when sending large sums of money. When you do things at the last minute, you are often rushed and fail to notice small red flags. Furthermore, your mind may not dwell on details that could have prevented a fraud. Always start a conversation with the person, talk to them once, wait for a few hours/days, and then make any transfers after conducting thorough research.
Make Advanced Payment but Money in Advance, not in full
The majority of the time, individuals pay the entire amount because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of paying the balance later. They have excessive trust in others. As much as possible, pay an advance first and the balance later. This saves you time and ensures that you do not lose all of your money in fraud.
Constant Callbacks are a Red Flag
The majority of fraudsters/scammers have a habit of repeatedly calling and texting you. For example, a recent “NGO Scam” was published in newspapers where someone calls or WhatsApps someone asking for donations for a sick child in the hospital. If you show any interest, you will be bombarded with WhatsApp messages and callbacks to donate the money RIGHT NOW.
This raises a huge red flag. Sometimes you get a call from a senior or higher-up who is following you. Be extremely cautious if this occurs in your case.
Validate Phone Numbers or Contact Person through Online Groups/Websites
The majority of legitimate businesses have a strong online presence. They have a website, a Facebook page, an Instagram page, or another social media presence. You can read other people’s reviews, their phone numbers are listed, and other information such as address and business details are provided.
That is not to say that fraudsters cannot create these items, but it is a simple checkpoint. If you come into contact with someone who is missing these items, you have reason to be sceptical.
Another excellent trick is to simply enter the phone number into the Truecaller App. Others who may have come across that fraudster or the same phone number must have labeled them as “fraud,” “scam,” “Spam,” or words to that effect. It will give you some indication of their sincerity. Truecaller can be used to determine whether a phone number is spam or fraud.
Inquire About Compliance such as GST/ Cheque / References
One thing you can do is request a CHEQUE copy and explain that you will be paying from your corporate account, which is a mandatory requirement by the company. This way, you’ll get all of the account holder’s information, including branch and account number.
There are numerous ways to determine whether or not the accounts belong to the same person. Many fraudsters do not use their personal account. This can be used as a starting point for further investigation, and you may catch a fraudster.
Also, if it’s a business entity, request a GST number, etc. for added security.
Don’t Believe Random Low-Key Website Advertisements
Never trust people or phone numbers listed on low-key websites; after all, they list their business on non-credible sites. It simply appears in the search engine for someone doing a Google search.
Pay Attention to Your Gut Feeling
Finally, listen to your gut instinct; if it tells you that something isn’t right, don’t go through with the transaction. Talk to the person to whom you are transferring the funds, and pay attention to their body language, tone, and other minor details. However, trust your intuition and avoid the transaction, or at the very least, postpone it.
Other Precautions to Take
Never, ever share your OTP or PIN with anyone.
Don’t answer calls from the RBI, IRDA, or the Tax Department requesting personal information.
To revise money on any UPI App, you never have to pay your UPI pin. Many con artists claim to be sending you money but instead send you a “Payment request.”