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Safety hacks to ensure safe & secure digital payments and deal with online fraud

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By Sujay Vasudevan, Vice President, Cyber and Intelligence Solutions, South Asia, Mastercard

Digital payments have accelerated, particularly in the ongoing pandemic times where it has witnessed tremendous evolution as people across the country adopted varied payment methods. The rise of digital payments in last 18 – 24 months has also led to increased number of cyber frauds.  The primary reason of success of some of these is lack of awareness among consumers and businesses on how to keep their data and money safe especially when the hackers are eyeing every opportunity to snip money.

On the occasion of Safer Internet Day 2022, Mastercard shares some safety tips to ensure safe and secure digital payments and also answers frequently asked questions related to online fraud, contributing towards this year’s theme of “Together for a better internet”.

1. Use unique passwords and don’t share them – Ensure that passwords for all modes of transactions are different from each other and are not easy to decipher. Avoid using names, birthdays, and other such details for passwords. Passwords must never be shared with anyone and need to be changed regularly to avoid falling prey to cyber-attacks.

 2. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for transactions – Avoid using public devices or Wi-Fi networks when making online transactions since they are more prone to cyber-attacks, theft, and other fraudulent activities.  A high level of protection is offered by the verified sites, so it is also important to use only reputed websites for online payment transactions.

 3. Double-check QR codes – When scanning QR codes, always check that the beneficiary is correct as hackers can easily replace a legitimate QR code used for payments with a malicious QR code that will put your banking or financial account information in danger of getting exposed.

 4. Regularly check financial statements – Ensure to read through messages that are received after every payment and make a detailed viewing of the financial statement once a week or more. In case you spot any inconsistencies, raise a ticket, or contact the bank/payment platform immediately.

 5. Use two-factor authentication – Turn on two-factor email authentication when logging in into accounts and applications to protect account takeovers that can lead to payment fraud. This can restrict the amount of information that is needed to log into them, and email addresses are relatively simple to recall. Even if the original password is leaked or stolen, only the user receives the one-time password code via SMS that is needed to log in to a digital payment app or site. This measure protects accounts from unauthorised access.

 6. Do not open suspicious emails or links – Cybercriminals have countless ways to trick users into opening an email attachment or a link that loads harmful malware onto their system. Additionally, users should also avoid giving out their personal information via suspicious web forms. Ensure that you report those emails as spam and delete them from your mailbox.

 Frequently asked questions related to online fraud

1. What to do if you become a victim of online banking fraud?

 Online fraud can happen in many ways. When it comes to payment fraud, the first step for a customer when he/she has been defrauded is to block the card immediately and change passwords of the login and linked emails, reach out to the bank and lodge a formal complaint.

2. In case of online banking fraud, who bears the loss – bank or the customer?

The safety of bank accounts, debit and credit cards lies both with the customer as well as the concerned bank. Banks must have proper systems in place to alert them if in case of any fraudulent activity and breach takes place. Customers also must be cognisant and not share any sensitive information such as passwords and OTPs with anyone. They must also check the kind of apps they are saving their cards details on and ensure to not use public computers and Wi-Fi.

3. What if a fraud has happened because of customer’s carelessness, in that case who bears the loss?

It is important for customers to not share any account-related information with anyone, not use apps that one doesn’t trust and avoid using public Wi-Fi. It is also important to inform the bank immediately if any kind of breach or fraud in the bank account is noticed. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has warned bank account holders of fraudulent transactions. RBI has already asked banks to ensure proper safety measures with respect to customers hard-earned money. They have also established a helpline number to report fraudulent activities or illegal transaction or withdrawals. It is imperative for banks and customers to adhere to RBI guidelines for safe digital payments and online banking to avoid getting defrauded. Mastercard has been relentlessly working towards being cyber strong in 2022. Through our initiatives, we aim to stay ahead of fraudsters by continually evolving and enhancing our protection of cyber environments for our banks and users.

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