Covid has compelled people across generations to start using online modes of transactions, but with the growing use of cards, apps and online payments, the number of online banking frauds are increasing. Even as a lot of people enjoy the benefits of digital transaction, frauds remain a pressing concern, especially for first-time users, which includes the elderly.
At the same time, given the high interest among investors, especially new investors, a lot of unsolicited advice is being put up on social media and messaging platforms such as YouTube and WhatsApp.
Growing dependency on technology along with socio-cultural factors are also contributors. Working from non-secure locations such as homes, where the firewalls and digital security features are not robust, is another reason for the increase in fraud cases. Plus, advice from the wrong sources is making things murkier.
On Wednesday, Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), announced the launch of Saa₹thi, a mobile application that aims to educate investors and empower them with knowledge about the securities market. The purpose behind the app is to create proper awareness about the securities market among investors, especially considering the fact that many new investors have entered the market, and that they are mobile-friendly.
The market regulator recently punished six people for illegally providing stock advice on social media platforms such as Telegram and Twitter. Sebi imposed a fine of Rs 2.84 crore on the six individuals involved in the scam. No person, firm or other entity is permitted to provide market-related advice, for example on stocks or mutual funds, if not registered with Sebi.
How To Avoid Falling Prey To Financial Frauds?
Following are 10 simple steps to protect yourself from most online financial crimes and advice/information from wrong sources.
1. Many of us use different devices for money transactions. So, log out of all accounts after completing any sort of transaction. This adds another hurdle for a thief to cross.
2. Do not install any random or unknown app or open any untrusted links on any device. Always check if the URL starts with ‘https’. Anything starting with ‘http’ should be avoided.
3. There are many fake apps. Usually, their logos are slightly different and there will be very few subscribers. Read the user reviews; some users would have called out the fake app.
4. Check the recent published date and the update date. Fake apps usually have only the former. Also, check if the app is asking for unrelated information like access to camera. Be wary of giving access.
5. To delete a fake app, uninstall it from the ‘Settings’ and not just ‘bin’ it. The next step is to restart your phone.
6. Like fake apps, there are fake hosting sites that appear at the top of search engines. Opening such links is dangerous as they appear just like real websites and can steal information from your device. Refer to official links, rather than visiting random links appearing on search results.
7. Install a strong anti-virus software on all your devices, be it a mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
8. Don’t transact using public WiFi systems; use only password-protected and secure connections.
9. If you notice suspicious activity, immediately report it to the bank, card issuer or the payment platform. Report suspicious apps to the playstore.
10. Apart from device security, also pay attention to ‘advice security’. No person, firm or other entity is allowed to give market-related advice or recommendations, for example on stocks or mutual funds, if they are not registered with Sebi. Only Sebi-registered entities can provide advice.