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Guarding your digital payments: Easy steps to stay safe from online payment frauds

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By:  Joy Sekhri, Vice President- Cyber and Intelligence Solutions, South Asia, Mastercard

India’s digital framework is considered one the strongest in the world – cementing its position as a digital technology leader globally. Presently in its ‘Digital Decade’, India at present has over 700 million internet users and the count is expected to double by 2030. Considering the scale of the country’s internet economy, the industry will be somewhere around $1 trillion by 2030.

The cases of payment fraud are increasing globally. India too has seen a sharp rise in digital payment frauds. The total amount of such fraud touched Rs 276 crore in FY2023. There is a growing need to raise awareness about these frauds and encourage people to be extra cautious while making digital payments. With the Indian government also pushing cybersecurity and the ease of staying safe online, here are some simple tips to ensure you stay safe online and protect yourself from these malicious threats. 

  • Building strong and unique passwords for individual accounts using special characters

Strong and unique passwords are the first line of defense against unauthorised access to your accounts and sensitive information. One must ensure that the password has a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Besides, one must also ensure that unique passwords are created for each payment account rather than reusing the same password across platforms. Alternatively, you can also use a passphrase – which is a password composed of a sentence or a combination of words. Passphrases are longer than the average password, making them harder to crack and increasing the overall security of users’ account. And of course, know the golden rule – never share your password with anyone. 

  • Leveraging intelligent authentication 

Global markets are currently transitioning into more advanced authentication systems – such as multifactor and biometric authentication. Consumers can take advantage of these new forms of authentication tools for better security. Biometric authentication, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, is becoming increasingly popular as a secure and convenient way to authenticate digital payments. 

  • Be vigilant and look out for the padlock symbol

The padlock icon, which denotes a secure, encrypted connection when browsing the internet, should always be carefully looked for. Cybercriminals often exploit unsecured websites to pilfer sensitive information or disseminate malware. Identifying the padlock emblem assures you of a secure connection, reducing the likelihood of falling victim to online crimes such as phishing schemes and data breaches.

  • Saving your card on merchant platforms for enhanced security

Most e-commerce platforms allow you to save card details and make payments faster. Card-on-file tokenisation is a technique used to replace sensitive data such as a card with unique tokens, which enhances security by ensuring that data is not stored with the merchants, reducing the risk of breaches or fraud. 

  • Increase awareness and spread the word

There is no specific age group who are more susceptible to cyber frauds. Around 80-85 percent of the affected customers are salaried individuals in the age group 22-50 years, who are perceived to be tech-savvy. Therefore, the only solution is to educate consumers about cyber risks and increase their knowledge about investment fraud. The government is also taking active measures to stop frauds and educate consumers about keeping themselves safe. And you can do it too, by spreading the word. 

It is never too late to adopt cybersecurity precautions, especially given the continued threat of online fraud. Though you can never fully anticipate or completely remove the chances of online frauds, these easy hacks will reduce its occurrence significantly and ensure you have a safe payment experience online.

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