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8 Steps To Avoid Being Tele-Conned! - Outside View by PersonalFN

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8 Steps To Avoid Being Tele-Conned!
Oct 30, 2015

Ever found your hands reaching for your back pocket or handbag, in a crowded place, to quickly assure your 'moneybag' was safe? Anyone who has lost expensive, personal items knows the importance of being vigilant about securing all valuables. While these efforts definitely lower the chance of your belongings being stolen, this isn't the only way someone can rob you. Instances of fraud via telephones/mobile phones are on the rise these days. And in most cases, it's too late when the victim realises he/she has fallen prey to a scam.

Ever found your hands reaching for your back pocket or handbag, in a crowded place, to quickly assure your 'moneybag' was safe? Anyone who has lost expensive, personal items knows the importance of being vigilant about securing all valuables. While these efforts definitely lower the chance of your belongings being stolen, this isn't the only way someone can rob you. Instances of fraud via telephones/mobile phones are on the rise these days. And in most cases, it's too late when the victim realises he/she has fallen prey to a scam.

How does a phone fraud take place?

Vishing or 'stealing of identity through telephone with an intention to commit fraud' usually happens this way...

A person posing as a bank or credit card company executive calls you, and furbishes a story.

He/she tends to sound very convincing and confident in conversation, and so the unsuspecting account or credit/debit card holder easily falls for the con.

To build credibility, connivers sometimes conduct background checks on the victim and furnish personal details on the call. They may state there is something wrong with your account/ card, or offer you new benefits, etc. They usually follow this pitch by asking for important personal data such as card CVV number, One Time Password (OTP), SMS received, passwords or PINs, etc. If their pitch sounds convincing or if you are mentally preoccupied, you willingly share any personal information they are vishing for.

You realise the fraud has happened only when a sum of money is debited from your card or bank account without your authorization.

What should be done if you fall prey?

If money, unauthorized by you, has been debited from your credit card or bank account, intimate the company and block your cards/accounts immediately to avoid further usage. Next, file a complaint with your local police station and/or cyber-crime cell. Giving complete information of the call ensures the connivers are identified sooner. It is advisable to make a copy of the complaint or First Information Report (FIR) along with a covering letter, explaining all the details of the crime and the actions you've taken; and hand them over to the bank or credit card company. Apart from this, you may also use the redressal mechanism, social media and consumer forums online to intimate the bank or credit card company and other people about the fraud. This time though, make sure you don't divulge any personal information.

Once vishing occurs, the harsh reality is it's a herculean task to recover the money. Hence, it's imperative to be careful about what information you share over tele/mobile phones and be alert to avoid being tele-conned!

Here are 8 things you can do to avoid being a victim of vishing:

  1. Do not disclose any personal, confidential information such as credit card CVV number, OTP, PINs, passwords, SMS, etc. to anyone; even if you are sure the call is legitimate. Frauds can also be committed by a company's current employee.
  2. You might recognise the number flashing on your phone screen as your bank's or credit card company's official number, but do not trust the caller blindly; it could still be a hoax call. Check for credentials and purpose of the call.
  3. It is prudent to avoid giving any other non-confidential information (such as bank account details, name, number, address, nominee name, credit card limit, last bill amount, and so on) when anyone calls you. Instead, you must call the customer service number (toll free or other) of the company directly for any queries to avoid the chances of any fraud taking place.
  4. Do not reveal any information whether confidential or non-confidential in places that have unrestricted public viewing. Keep your social media accounts private, so that your personal details cannot be viewed by anyone.
  5. Avoid using public computers at cyber cafes to log into your bank account or credit card account.
  6. Create a password for your debit/credit card for online transactions.
  7. At times, we might forget the debit/credit card or bank account password/PIN and need to click on the “forgot password” option. In such cases, an OTP is generated and gets messaged and/or emailed to you; it is best to delete these after being inputted. It becomes even more important to delete it in case you haven't used it. You must change any new password/PIN emailed or messaged after logging in for the first time, and delete such emails or messages right after.
  8. Before providing credit card or bank account details to any vendor, service provider or hotel, do a thorough background check so that your details aren't misused later.

PersonalFN is of the view that you need to be vigilant and responsible while indulging in any form of communication to avoid fraudulent mishaps like vishing, phishing, etc. Let's work to spread the awareness about such crimes among family members and friends; this might just help save someone else from being conned.

How does a phone fraud take place?

PersonalFN is a Mumbai based personal finance firm offering Financial Planning and Mutual Fund Research services.

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