Credit Card Phishing: When emails and phone calls act as a weapon for robbery
This article is an excerpt from the Sept-Oct 2021 edition of the Finance Gazette Volume III. Click to read the whole edition
Have you ever wondered how a robber can steal your money without breaking into your house or pointing a gun at your head?
Well, a phone call or email can act as a weapon to empty your card balance within seconds. The term “Phishing” has recently gained attention in the banking sector after a series of frauds happening around the nation. Phishing begins when a customer receives a legitimate-looking email. The mail looks like an official mail sent by a bank framed using official language and comprising the bank logo. It asks the customer for undergoing a security check by sharing private and sensitive information. That is where the trouble begins and it ends with your credit card balance falling to zero.
In today’s world, you can get the minutest of details of your credit card accounts through online services. But, are you taking enough precautions to prevent yourself from falling prey to the hands of fraudsters? Customers are used to receiving regular emails from credit card companies. That is where phishers are banking on. People are so occupied in their day to day life that they tend to overlook spoofed mail and share their private information without double verifying the mail. The mail is framed with urgent language to push the user to share their information on an urgent basis and perform unquestioning action. The mail might ask the customer for personal information or provide them with a link that will lead them to a spoofed website. The phishers design the website in the most sophisticated manner to fool the users and extract private information.
In India, a small town in Jharkhand, Jamtara, is widely known for its cyber scams and credit card phishing attacks. Amidst the poverty and illiteracy, this small town is frequently visited by police officers of different states. The recent data compiled by a Special Task Force of the UP Police display that more than 2000 mobile numbers used for committing online fraud in the country have been detected back to this otherwise unheard place in Jharkhand.
In an area of limited choices and resources by the Government, people look for alternate sources of funding themselves. Phishers at Jamtara find credit card phishing as a great source of funding their means. The economic and geographic conditions of Jamtara make it an ideal place for credit card phishers. Located at the state border with easy evasion from the scrutiny of police when required and the widespread illiteracy and poverty among 40 lakh farmers benefit the phishers to fulfil their plan.
Now, how can you save yourself from falling for such frauds?
Card issuers like Citi Bank offer virtual card numbers along with a real number. Users can create a virtual number whenever they visit a new website to make purchases. The virtual number is linked with the account to notify users whenever a purchase is made. This technique facilitates creating a buffer space between bad actors and the original number, thereby making it difficult for the phishers to pull off the scam.
Attention-seeking and eye-catching statements are designed to catch people’s attention. Scammers put too good to be true content on mails like a lottery win or iPhone win to lure away the customers. But, what is important to understand in this entire scenario is, if it is too good to be true, it is!
Author: Lavina Garodia
Illustration by: Harsh Agarwal, Udeshay Teotia