Internet cos team up to tackle e-frauds
Bengaluru: Seven leading internet companies are banding together to save their consumers from the rising menace of cyber frauds being carried out by duping innocent users, where the money is being siphoned off from their accounts.
The companies taking action include travel majors MakeMyTrip Group and Oyo Hotels & Homes, mobile payments firm Paytm, online food delivery aggregators Swiggy & Zomato, besides ride-hailing giant Uber.
Three people aware of the matter said these companies met the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) last week to make a joint representation on the issue and how to curb these online frauds — engineered via fake toll-free numbers and serial
Volume share of fraud risk (in %)
Identity theft bank account generators, among other methods. About 4,000 SIM card numbers and 350-400 bank account numbers have been shared with the RBI, State Bank of India (SBI) and the telecom companies, whose services are used to fool the unsuspecting consumers.
These tech companies have also reached out to Google about how its search engine is used by cybercriminals to make their fake toll-free numbers appear on top of search results. This leads to some of the consumers believing the fake number to be the legitimate number of the company. Some even go on to set up fake websites mimicking the original ones.
Over the past couple of weeks, executives from these internet companies met senior officials of SBI, Airtel and other stakeholders, sources added. Among the companies that are part of this council, MakeMyTrip, Swiggy, Zomato and Paytm have confirmed the development to TOI. Going forward, more online firms are expected to join the group to share their fraud data to counter such online frauds.
In a letter addressed to SBI, the online companies have raised the issue of large-scale fraud being attempted, using accounts in the bank. People involved in the discussion said due to the sheer scale of SBI, most of the miscreants fooling consumers to send money or share their sensitive bank details have accounts with the largest public sector bank. Emails sent to the RBI, SBI, Google India and Airtel did not elicit any response on the matter.
“People from non-urban markets or even senior citizens are common victims. These frauds are typically done by sending SMS from accounts sounding similar to the original company and would have an extra alphabet in the name of the company (say, an extra ‘a’ in MakeMyTrip). This could go unnoticed and people can fall prey to the messages,” a person aware of the modus operandi said. What then typically happens is that these messages would promise attractive rewards.