RBI releases “BE(A)WARE” booklet listing common modus operandi for online financial fraud


There has been a significant increase in digital transactions and digital payment methods over the past few years. Demonetization and movement restrictions during COVID-19 contributed significantly to this increase. The increase in transactions also leads to an increase in financial fraud through online means. To help customers, the RBI recently published a ‘BE(A)WARE’ brochure listing the common modus operandi of fraudsters and general precautions for customers to take.

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the use of a digital or online medium for financial transactions. This has been made possible through a combination of the availability of data and smartphones at lower prices, the introduction of simple and convenient payment methods such as UPI and IMPS, and the explosion of payment apps. The ease and convenience of conducting such transactions also contributed to this increase.

Moreover, the government has encouraged several modes of digital transactions. In the aftermath of demonetization, the government had announcement a series of measures for the promotion of digital transactions. The government recently approved a incentive system to promote Rupay debit cards and low value[jusqu’àRs2000)TransactionsBHIM-UPIdanslepaysLeprogrammeviseàrembourserletauxd’escomptemarchand(MDR)auxbanquesquiaétéramenéàzéroendécembre2019pourlestransactionsUPIjusqu’àRs2000[uptoRs2000)BHIM-UPItransactionsinthecountryTheschemeisaimedatreimbursingthemerchantdiscountrate(MDR)tobankswhichwasbroughtdowntozeroinDecember2019forUPItransactionsuptoRs2000[jusqu’àRs2000)TransactionsBHIM-UPIdanslepaysLeprogrammeviseàrembourserletauxd’escomptemarchand(MDR)auxbanquesquiaétéramenéàzéroendécembre2019pourlestransactionsUPIjusqu’àRs2000[uptoRs2000)BHIM-UPItransactionsinthecountryTheschemeisaimedatreimbursingthemerchantdiscountrate(MDR)tobankswhichwasbroughtdowntozeroinDecember2019forUPItransactionsuptoRs2000

The number of Internet subscribers has more than tripled in 5 years and digital transactions have multiplied by 8 in 6 years

According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the total number of broadband subscribers (wireless and wired) in the country was 23.61 crores at December 31, 2016 which rose to 79.21 crores from December 31, 2021, an increase of more than threefold in 5 years. Along with increased internet penetration, the demonetization of high value banknotes in 2016 and security issues and movement restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic are two major events that have also contributed to the increase in digital transactions in the country. Since 2016-17, the volume of digital transactions in India has increased about 8 times in six years. While 2016-17 only saw a total digital transaction volume of 1,004 crore, the number reached 7,869 crore in 2021-22 with a few more days to end the year, according to the government. DigiDhan Dashboard.

Rs. 4.5 crore worth of frauds involving card/internet – debit cards, credit cards and internet banking were reported in two years

Although the speed and ease of transactions has improved with digitization, the number of reported frauds in retail financial transactions is also increasing. Innovative methods are used by fraudsters to extract money from people, especially those who are not fully familiar with the techno-financial ecosystem. In Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCB), under the category of “Card/Internet Fraud – Debit Cards, Credit Cards and Internet Banking”, a total of 73,552 cases of fraud involving Rs. 2.51 crores were reported in 2019-2020 and 69,818 cases involving 2.07 crores were reported in 2020-21 according to published data by the RBI. The actual number may be higher due to under-reporting, and this header does not cover all types of fraud.

To combat increasing cases of fraud in digital transactions, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued guidelines/circulars from time to time advising banks to take measures to prevent fraud to ensure protection client. Help lines, websites, etc. are also made available to customers to report unauthorized transactions. Apart from these, RBI also manages awareness campaigns on secure digital banking services.

RBI has published a brochure on the common modus operandi used by fraudsters

As part of the public awareness initiative by the Education and Consumer Protection Department, RBI, the country’s central bank recently published a booklet “TO BE AWARE” on the common modus operandi used by fraudsters and the precautions to take when carrying out various financial transactions. The brochure aims to raise awareness of the different types of financial fraud perpetrated on customers during digital payments and other financial transactions. The book has been divided into three parts – Parts A and B list commonly observed modus operandi and precautions against fraudulent transactions relating to banks and non-bank financial companies (NBFCs), and Part C explains general precautions and digital measurements. hygiene measures to be taken by the public.

RBI has placed emphasis on the confidentiality of personal information

Sharing of confidential information such as username, password, card details, CVV and OTP by customers knowingly or unknowingly has been identified as one of the main causes of financial fraud, based on RBI’s analysis of complaints. Noting this, emphasis has been placed on the need to always keep one’s personal information confidential, being aware of unknown calls, emails and messages, etc.

The RBI booklet lists the following 14 different modus operandi used by fraudsters when it comes to banks.

  1. Phishing links: Links from a third-party phishing website that resembles an existing genuine website, such as that of a bank, e-commerce website, or search engine, are created by scammers and distributed by SMS, social media, etc.
  2. Vishing calls: People are approached through phone calls/social media by imposters who pose as bankers/executives/agents and trick them into revealing confidential information.
  3. Online sales platforms: The scammers pretend to be defense personnel or buyers interested in the seller’s products and use the “request money” option through the UPI app instead of paying the seller.
  4. Unknown/unverified mobile apps: Links of malicious apps are spread so that customers end up downloading them on their PC or smartphone which gives access to the device including the confidential details stored on it to the fraudsters.
  5. ATM card skimming: Skimming devices, dummy keyboards, pinhole cameras, etc. are installed in ATMs to access PIN code and ATM card, so these duplicates can be created to extract money.
  6. Remote access: Customers are tricked into downloading a screen-sharing app through which fraudsters control the customer’s device and gain access to their financial credentials.
  7. SIM swap / SIM clone: Access to the customer’s SIM card or a duplicate SIM card linked to their bank account is obtained to perform unauthorized transactions.
  8. Compromising credentials on results via search engines: Contact details on search engines such as those for banks, insurance companies or helpline numbers may be those of impostors and customers may unknowingly reveal confidential details to them.
  9. QR code scanning scam: Customers are contacted and tricked into scanning QR codes through which fraudsters are authorized to withdraw money.
  10. Impersonation on social networks: Fake accounts using user details of social media platforms are created to extort money from friends and family under false pretences.
  11. Jacking juice: Public phone charging ports can be used to transfer malware to customers’ phones connected to them and gain access to sensitive data on customers’ device.
  12. Lottery: Customers receive emails or phone calls stating that they have won a huge lottery and are asked to provide their bank account/credit card details to a website from which the data is obtained by the fraudsters.
  13. Online job: Fake job search sites are created and job seekers are asked to share confidential bank details to register on the site.
  14. Silver mules: People are tricked by fraudsters into laundering illegal money through their bank accounts.

Modus operandi used by fraudsters in NBFCs have also been listed

The brochure also lists the modus operandi in the case of NBFCs. Common modus operandi used by scammers in the case of NBFCs are false advertisements for giving loans by scammers, SMS/email/IM/call scams, OTP based frauds, fake sites Web or loan applications, money circulation/Ponzi/multilevel. Marketing System (MLM) and through loans with false documents.

General precautionary measures should be taken by customers and depositors

The brochure also lists general precautions customers should take to avoid falling prey to these frauds.

  • Keep an eye out for suspicious pop-ups that appear during your internet browsing sessions.
  • Look for a secure payment gateway (https:// – URL with a padlock symbol) before making online payments/transactions.
  • Do not save card details or passwords on websites or devices and do not share these confidential details with others.
  • Do not click on unverified links.
  • Enable two-factor authentication if such a feature is available.
  • Installing antivirus on devices and installing regular updates to fix bugs and scanning USB devices before use.
  • Disconnecting from the online banking session immediately after use.
  • Do not use public terminals for financial transactions.
  • Regular updating of passwords.
  • For depositors, verification of NBFCs, employees or agents and their applications is recommended.

To lodge a complaint about such fraud, one can use the following contact details-


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