Fighting financial fraud in a digital world 

In India, the fear of losing money keeps most people away from investing in assets.

Published: 13th August 2018 02:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th August 2018 03:15 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

In India, the fear of losing money keeps most people away from investing in assets. The same worry results in the bias that common people nurture towards cashless transactions. With rising incidents of online fraud coming to light, there is a growing unease among people about sharing personal data.

While there are legitimate worries about identity and money theft, it is also a fact that financial transactions have become increasingly technology-driven.

Bank account is one’s most basic personal finance vehicle. Many of us now use mobile phone apps of our banks to do the same things we once did on the desktops.  

The convenience in digital payments has resulted in electronic transactions surging. The number of retail electronic transactions has jumped to 29.7 crore — worth Rs 20,10,000 crore in June 2018 alone . This number stood at 21.7 crore transactions worth Rs 13,10,000 crore in June 2017. The data from the Reserve Bank of India suggests people are increasingly using NEFT and IMPS for fund transfers.

There has been a sharp surge in the number of people using mobile banking — with 30.6 crore transactions worth Rs 1,89,000 crore in June 2018 as compared to 11.5 crore worth Rs 1,80,000 crore in June 2017.

While there is no significant jump in terms of value, the number of mobile banking transactions has almost tripled in number. This indicates more people are doing small value transactions on mobile phone apps of banks.

If digital frauds were hurting people, they would not have adapted so quickly to the online and mobile banking systems. The onus is definitely on both— the consumers and banks — to ensure that the systems work without any disruption.

What can you do?

omeone performing digital transactions using a web browser must ensure that the website is secure. In most browsers, the website address panel turns green. Also, when you are asked to sign in, just ensure that the website address starts with ‘https’ and not just ‘http’. HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure. This means your communication with the server is secure.
In case of apps, banks are mandated to have a minimum two-stage authentication process to enable transactions. The banking app may ask one to either sign-in and send a One-Time Password to one’s registered phone number. One has to ensure that the two-step authentication process is functional.

Mother knows it all

A key factor for one is to go by the mother’s advice about not talking to strangers. There are a lot of messages that hit our email — offering a cash prize in foreign currency or request for personal details claiming to be from the Reserve Bank of India or the Income-Tax department. Messages claiming to be credit card company communication also try to extract information.

As banking becomes sophisticated so does the ability of people to manoeuvre or hack into the security. Considering the money spent by banks on multi-layered network security, it would take a huge effort to extract data from a bank’s system.

Human beings are a weakling in the financial services network security eco-system. Those wanting to compromise data or steal money will use corruption to extract information. They will rely on our carelessness to put together sophisticated tools that would help them enter our bank network. One’s gullible nature could be exploited to gain access to private information on multiple occasions, consequently completing the chain of information enough to breach network security.

Hiding behind ‘lack of knowledge’ can no longer be an excuse. One has to read up. All banks provide a lot of information on their websites and apps that help us protect our vital information.
No amount of warnings will help if one if one does not change the mindset. One’s digital life is as important as the physical world. Staying informed and updated is the only way one can remain free from the stress of a potential fraud.  (The author is a publisher and founder at Simplus Information Services Pvt Ltd)

India’s new digital push
29.7 crore - Number of retail electronic transactions in June 2018
21.7 crore - Number of retail electronic transactions in June 2017
30.6 crore - Number of transactions through mobile banking in June 2018
11.5 crore - Number of transactions through mobile banking in June 2017

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