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How to Prevent online frauds

Prevent online frauds

25 Sep 2008, 0000 hrs IST, Preeti Kulkarni, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: The recent spate of incidents pointing to misuse of Internet by terrorists has exposed users’ vulnerability to frauds like hacking and identity thefts, underlining the need for constant vigilance. Apart from routine emailing and surfing, an increasing number of users in urban India are turning to the Internet for settling their utility bills and transferring funds, which means that even a minor lapse could result in their funds being siphoned off.

You needn’t be an IT wizard to circumvent such frauds – just using your common sense would suffice. “Most online frauds have their genesis in the offline world. How responsibly you handle your online payment tools has an impact on security,” points out MN Srinivasu, director, BillDesk.

For instance, basic measures like making sure that you log out of your net banking account once your transaction is done – particularly if you are accessing it from a computer at a public place – will leave little scope for unauthorised access to your personal information. In addition, you can adopt the following measures to eliminate chances of misuse.

Use Secure Portals

If you do not take care to ensure that the site you are visiting for making an online payment is technically secure, your passwords and credit card details can be compromised and a duplicate credit card bearing the same data as yours can be generated. A typing error while entering the website address may lead you to a fraudulent website specifically created to capitalise on such errors – which is why you need to make sure the website address is correct before you initiate a transaction.

“While making payments online, using secure portals with a trust e-seal and tested payment gateways such as Paypal and CCavenue can keep tricksters at bay,” suggests Karnika Seth, partner at law firm Seth Associates.
Exercise Caution

“While making purchases online, you need to ensure that you are doing business with a reputable Internet merchant, and study the website’s privacy policy carefully. A reputable website often has a clearly stated privacy policy at an accessible place. Your computer browser can tell you if the place where you are about to send the information is secure. If you cannot determine this, do not put your payment card information over the Internet,” advises Barry Wong, senior business leader and regional head, security and risk services, Asia/Pacific, MasterCard Worldwide.

You would also do well to seek all information about the offer, including contact details of the Internet merchant.
Keeping a record of your online shopping, by taking a printout of the transaction details, is important. Also, while using the net banking facility, if the online shopping portal prompts you for username and password, steer clear of it. You should trust only those portals that redirect you to your bank’s website for such purposes.

Watch Out For Phishing

Never respond to ‘phishing’ emails asking for your personal information and passwords. You need to remember that no bank or financial institution will ask for such sensitive information over email. Installing an anti-virus software application would also go a long way in keeping your computer and, thereby, all your private information secure.

Know Your Rights
If you ignore the fineprint of your bank and credit card documents, it deprives you of the knowledge of your rights. “For example, if you see a transaction on your credit card statement which you haven’t executed, you have the right to raise the issue with the bank,” says Mr Srinivasu. For this purpose, you need to constantly monitor your statements. With the advent of bank and card statements, many tend to neglect going through the documents, unlike earlier, when the good-old habit of updating the pass book kept them abreast of their account details.
Legal Recourse
Finally, if you believe that your account has been misused, you have the option of seeking legal help. The law provides for civil as well as criminal remedies if your bank account /credit card/ debit card has been misused.
“An FIR should be filed immediately for theft (section 378 IPC), fraud and cheating (Section 415 IPC) and criminal breach of trust (Section 405 IPC, if the crime is committed by a person known to the victim).

Usually these offences attract a punishment of approximately three years or fine or both. In case the bank is involved in this conspiracy, a consumer action can also be initiated for unfair trade practice and deficiency in services where compensation can also be awarded, apart from criminal remedies,” informs Ms Seth.

Moreover, the Information Technology Act, 2000 has laid down provisions for punishing those indulging in hacking or gaining unauthorised access to others’ computers

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