Phishing calls spike in City as victims flounder

Phishing calls spike in City as victims flounder

Phishing calls spike in City as victims flounder

Beware, you could be the next telephonic phishing victim! If State Director General and Inspector General of Police, Om Prakash himself could fall into a smooth-talking fraudster’s trap, reveal his bank account details and eventually lose Rs 10,000, anybody can. For, a huge racket thrives out there, as clearly indicated by the recent spike in phishing calls in Bengaluru.

Not every call is as direct as a query about your personal financial details. Instead, many fraudsters are taking the insurance policy route to trap the gullible. This, despite the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) issuing a circular in September 2014, warning the public against ficticious offers such as insurance bonus and refunds.

Last week, Rishi Kumar (name changed), an Indiranagar resident, was stumped by an IRDA officer’s morning call from Delhi. Sounding extremely official and professional, the caller told Kumar that his insurance policy was expiring and the agent was about to siphon off 75 per cent of the claim amount. Kumar was totally hooked by this.

Confused and clueless, Kumar listened, as the caller explained in great detail how the agent had duped him 20 years ago! It was two decades ago, and Kumar barely remembered the process. But the caller was refreshing his memory, about how the agent had made him sign without letting him read the fine print. That signature would now prove costly, since in that single stroke, Kumar had surrendered 75 per cent of the claim amount to the agent!

But the caller from IRDA would help him, provided he paid Rs 17,000 as service tax either through a bank cheque or DD. This demand raised Kumar’s suspicions. He left the caller hanging, and did a quick Internet search to find a long list of online complaints, most of them linked to fake IRDA calls.

Kumar outsmarted the caller deftly. But not everyone would read about IRDA’s warning about fake officers from the Integrated Grievance Department Management System (IGMS), an online platform where policyholders could lodge complaints and track their application status.

Fraud techniques
The fraudsters would explain that they called in response to an online complaint by the policyholder, and the grievance can be resolved for a specified amount.  Another ploy is to convince the policyholder that his/her money has been fraudulently transferred and it can be retrieved only for a price.

But the most common technique employed is to convince the policyholder that IRDA is awarding bonus. However, to receive the bonus money, taking a new policy is mandatory. Bonus on the earlier policy would be paid after a few months. Unsuspecting policyholders often fall into the trap since the callers reel out their personal details such as address, policy number and sum assured.

Tough to track
It is proving tough to track down the callers since most calls originate from Delhi or Hyderabad. “Even if the numbers are verified, the addresses prove to be false. Service providers should ensure that they give the correct location,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime), Ramesh R told Deccan Herald.

Ramesh urged public to be more vigilant while attending such calls. He said, “public should not disclose their personal details. They should also be careful while filling out forms in shopping malls and other outlets.”

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