THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: It began with the banks asking their customers to link Aadhaar numbers with their bank accounts. Later mobile companies began telling us to link it with our mobile numbers. They bombard us with emails, calls and text messages nudging us to do the linking as early as possible. The messages either warn of disconnection or that the account will become inoperative.
It is true the Central government wants Aadhaar to be linked with the bank accounts, permanent account numbers (PAN) and the mobile numbers. But it is also true that to complete the Aadhaar linking exercise the public has enough time. So why create panic?
However, all this hoopla is working in favour of the fraudsters.
Financial criminals are making the most of this panic to extract information from customers. People are getting calls from racketeers masquerading as representatives of banks and telecom companies offering ‘help’ with Aadhaar linking or to verify an account linked.
Any information shared in the form of a one-time password (OTP), SIM card details, Aadhaar number, debit card or credit card numbers over the phone will result in money getting syphoned off from the bank account. Even those who consider themselves as smart are falling prey to this sophisticated crime.
Shashwat Gupta, a manager with an electronics company lost money from his salary account after he replied to a fraudster’s call. “A person, claiming to be from Airtel, gave me an ultimatum that the phone company will deactivate my SIM and block my number forever since I had not linked my Aadhaar card.
He urged me to message my SIM card number to 121 (official Airtel service number) and my SIM will be reactivated without any hassle. Little did I know that the fraudster will clone my SIM and loot all my hard-earned money,” said Shashwat. He lost Rs 1.3 lakh.
From Shashwat’s case, it is evident that the fraudsters have access to some information about the person they are conning. To gain a victim’s trust they spell out the account details, a few common numbers of the debit card.
But they cannot complete the task unless we give out the information they need such as an OTP, SIM or debit card details. “I did not know that we could take a duplicate SIM without much verification. Even the bank allowed the person to withdraw money from the account even after a complaint was filed,” said Shashwat. Recovering lost money is not always easy. Shashwat filed a complaint with the police and the bank headquarters. “Bank authorities have told me to be patient until they complete an internal check. I have transferred my FIR to Mumbai where the bank is based,” he said.
The city police have started a dedicated cell to help people who have lost money as a result of OTP fraud.
Those who have lost money should inform the cell within one hour of the crime. Officers in the cyber cell operate from the Commissioner’s office. The cyber cell can be reached at 0471-2329107, 9497975998 or the cyber police station 0471-2322090.
Banks and telecom companies do not call customers seeking information regarding accounts or ATM pins or passwords. The public can link Aadhaar with their bank accounts or mobile numbers by visiting the respective branch or retail outlet.
Deadline for linking Aadhaar
1. With PAN: December 31, 2017
2. With mobile number (SIM): February 2018
3. For submitting Aadhaar details to banks/financial institutions - December 31, 2017
4. To give Aadhaar details to avail social security schemes - December 31, 2017