Leading Internet Companies Are Banding Together to Check Online Fraud

Leading Internet Companies Are Banding Together to Check Online Fraud

In the face of increasing online fraudsters who clean out users’ bank accounts, seven top internet companies have joined hands to approach the issue and save customers from such cybercrimes.

MakeMyTrip, OYO, Paytm, Swiggy, Zomato, and Uber are Joining the Fight

According to a TOI report, the companies who have taken cognizance of the issue are travel majors MakeMyTrip Group and Oyo Hotels & Homes, mobile payments firm Paytm, online food delivery aggregators Swiggy & Zomato, besides ride-hailing giant Uber.

Last week, these top companies together met the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) representatives and made a joint representation on the issue. Also, the presentation addressed the plan on how to curb these online frauds engineered via fake toll-free numbers and serial bank account generators.

Share Database with RBI, SBI and Telecom Companies

Leading internet entities shared a database of about 4,000 SIM card numbers and 350-400 bank account numbers with the RBI, State Bank of India (SBI) and the telecom companies, whose services are used to fool the unsuspecting consumers.

In addition, these companies have also reached out to Google about highlighting how cybercriminals are gaming the system to make their illicit toll-free numbers appear on top of its search results. By doing that, cybercriminals make 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.

Meet with Senior Officials of SBI, Airtel and Other Stakeholders

The companies have also met senior officials of SBI, Airtel and other stakeholders. Among the companies that are part of this council, four companies, which have confirmed the development to TOI, are MakeMyTrip, Swiggy, Zomato and Paytm. 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 pointed out the issue of large-scale fraud being attempted, using accounts in the bank. In the discussion, people said that due to the sheer scale of SBI, most of the miscreants who fool 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.

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Make Effort in Educating Customers

“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.

“While we are taking all necessary steps to educate our customers and spread awareness about these phishing attempts this fraud can only be contained with pro-active support, viz timely detection, suspension of accounts and expeditious action by telecom companies, banks, social media platforms, and search engines,” said a spokesperson of MakeMyTrip group.

In an interview with Inc42, Ramaswamy Venkatachalam, Managing Director – Banking and Payments, FIS said, “In the current digital banking landscape, there is a serious need for continued emphasis on innovation, cybersecurity and customer protection. A strong regulatory framework, infallible security measures to enable confidence and trust, an effective customer redressal framework and ease of use can help guarantee secured digital transactions.”

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In May, report shows that India is the second most cyberattacks affected country, between 2016 to 2018. The average cost for a data breach in India has risen 7.9% since 2017, with the average cost per breached record amounting to INR 4,552 ($64). From 2017 to 2018, the RBI too recorded a total of 2,059 cases of cyber fraud, compared to 1,372 cyber fraud cases in 2016-17.

As online fraud is becoming more serious, the SIM card database and account numbers often used to scam consumers of the online platforms have been shared with the authorities. Then, the council of companies would share this information with the cyber wings of police in Delhi and Mumbai, the two largest cities in India.

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