The first thing we do when we have a question about a product or service is contact the customer service department of the company. It is the responsibility of each company's customer support team to investigate customer complaints and resolve them. You can contact Customer Support by either calling or emailing. Despite the fact that the customer support team helps resolve issues, you should be very cautious when calling them. This is because fraudsters have created fake customer service numbers to take advantage of people. By calling these fake customer service numbers, you will not get your issue resolved; instead, you will end up losing money.  

A sailor in the Indian Navy was defrauded of Rs 1.97 lakh online

In the Indian Navy, Harendra Kumar Prasad (25), an electrical sailor, was assigned to INS Gomati, staying at the naval dockyard. It is reported that he wanted to transfer Rs.4,000 through Google Pay to a friend. During the transfer, Rs.4000 was deducted from his account but was not credited to his friends. Prasad contacted Google Pay's customer service department to cancel the transaction. 

Prasad wrote in his police report that he spoke with a person who claimed to be from the company's customer service. The person instructed Prasad to download Quick Weaver Support Team from the Google Play Store. According to the complaint, Prasad downloaded the application and created an ID. Then, he was asked for access to his account.

As part of the application's next step, Prasad was asked to enter his mobile number's first five digits. A customer service representative requested that he provide his UPI PIN, which he initially refused but eventually agreed to provide after they assured him that a refund would be made immediately. Upon entering the four-digit PIN, Prasad's account was deducted of Rs.94,714, which is also his mobile number's first five digits.

While Prasad complained to a customer service representative, he eventually agreed to share five one-time passwords sent to his phone. Unfortunately, Prasad lost another Rs 1.03 lakh. Prasad could not reach the person posing as a customer service representative after they disconnected the phone.

Detecting and avoiding this fraud:

1. Never divulge your internet banking password to anyone. Provide no personal information over the phone, such as credit card numbers, CVVs, OTPs, UPI pins, etc. No contact will be made with banks or reputable companies requesting personal information.

2.  Never Google the customer service number of a company or bank. The customer service number of the company can be found on its official website.

3. The OTP is only required when sending money, not when receiving it. It has been reported that fraudsters have defrauded many people by claiming they must share OTPs in order to receive money into their bank accounts.

4. Making or receiving payments online is recommended through a digital escrow platform. Escrow does not require you to share any of your financial information with anyone. There is a platform that provides escrow services called Vouch.

How does digital escrow work?

In digital escrow, a third-party account holds the money deposited by the buyer until the seller fulfills the terms of the contract. The escrow company supervises the transacting parties.

What is the role of Digital Escrow in preventing online fraud in India? 

Digital escrow services are offered by many companies in India. Among the most trusted is Vouch.

Vouch’s Digital Escrow service is a transparent way for buyers and sellers to build trust and secure a clean transfer of product and payment. Sellers can feel assured that they will be fairly compensated promptly, and buyers will feel confident that their order will be delivered as expected and on schedule. Vouch Digital Escrow keeps you updated and informed at every step of the transaction process till the end. Vouch’s professionals are always available to assist you with all queries that you may have during the entire transaction process. 

There is no scope for deceit or fraud since the payments, shipping, delivery, and execution are carried out under the honest and watchful eyes of the Vouch’s professionals. With Vouch, any business transaction becomes transparent, uncomplicated, and hassle-free. If you ever come across a fraudster asking for OTP, asking you to scan a QR code, or asking you to click on phishing links, you can simply refuse and ask him/her to proceed with the transaction through Vouch.

This is Fraud Story #115. Check back here for more fraud stories and scams that you can protect yourself from.

Safety is not just about protecting your credit, debit card number, and UPI accounts. It's about having control of your money till you've received the product or service you bought online!

Note: This is a good-faith initiative to educate the world about avoiding frauds like these and how to act when you're becoming a victim of such a situation. 

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