Cybercrime working hard to take advantage of the situation as India deals with the second covid surge. There have already been several cases of fraud involving vaccines, gifts, and other products.
Last year was no exception. Cybercriminals pretended to be bank employees and offered a loan moratorium in exchange for a “fee.” PM CARES Fund had fake UPI (unified payment interface) handles.
According to the Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report by NortonLifeLock, a cybersecurity agency, nearly 120 million people were affected by cybercrime between February 2020 and 2021. It’s likely to get worse this year as more people work from home and use online services.
“The use of the internet for banking has increased. Mobile banking transactions are on the rise even in rural areas. However, knowledge of cybercrime has not kept up, making many people easy targets,” said Bharat Panchal, chief risk officer for India, the Middle East, and Africa at FIS, a financial services technology firm.
Cybercrime hotspots have sprung up all over the place. Gangs now operate out of Bharatpur in Rajasthan, Mewat in Haryana, and other locations, similar to the notorious Jamtara in Jharkhand. “They’re still looking for new ways to con people,” he said.
Here are some examples of frauds that have been identified, as well as tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.
TESTING FOR COVID-19
Laboratories are unable to keep up with the demand for tests as the number of covid cases grows. The clogged infrastructure is being exploited by cybercriminals. There have been reports of people booking tests online with unknown laboratories that later turned out to be scams.”The con artists also go to the victim’s house and collect the sample,” Panchal said. They either don’t send a report or send a fake one later.
Caution: Schedule a test with an Indian Council of Medical Research-approved lab. “If you come across a new lab, conduct an online search using the business name plus the word ‘fraud.’ “It’s very likely that victims would have discussed it on social media,” said Prashant Mali, a cybersecurity expert based in Mumbai.
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DRUGS AND JABS
When the vaccine campaign began, the government made it possible for people to schedule appointments online. It also set up a registration portal called Co-WIN. Cybercriminals began launching applications with the word “Co-WIN” in the title. There have been instances where cybercriminals created bogus websites requesting payment in advance for vaccines.
Drugs like remdesivir, which are in short supply, have been sold on bogus websites.
Scammers also stole data when posing as government officials interested in tracking vaccination progress. Individuals are asked to submit personal information and identification documents in order to be tracked. Over 27 million Indians have become victims of identity fraud in the last year.
Caution: When installing an app, be sure to look at the creator’s name. Check to see if it’s from a reputable source.
“Be sure to keep a close eye on your papers. Aadhaar, PAN wallet, and mobile number information can be used in a variety of ways by cybercriminals. They can take out loans in your name, open bank accounts in your name, receive illegal money transfers, and even commit SIM-swap fraud if they steal your identity,” Mali explained.
CHARITIES AND DONATIONS
People are calling for support on social media in droves. Many people have taken steps to help those in need, and they have asked their friends on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to donate if they wish.
Cybersecurity experts warn that cybercriminals may imitate such initiatives and solicit donations.
Caution: If you want to donate, it’s best to do so to a well-established non-profit organization. Give money only to people you can trust for personal projects.
Criminals have been known to use compromised Facebook or Twitter accounts to contact followers or friends and ask for financial assistance. Don’t give money to anyone unless you’re sure it’s the same person who’s asking for support.
A few more simple precautions will help you avoid becoming a victim of fraud. Before clicking on any links or email addresses, double-check them. Fake links also use extra words or letters to mimic legitimate websites. A scam may also be indicated by misspelled words or random letters and numbers in the URL or email address.
Authenticate your accounts with two-factor authentication. This adds another layer of protection to your account by requiring two measures to access it.
Avoid placing your phone number, date of birth, and other personal information on the internet. The best way to stay safe is to be wary of any unknown incoming texts, emails, or phone calls.