UPI(Unified Payments Interface) is the most preferred digital payment method for Indians. With UPI being widely used across the country, UPI-related scams have been on the rise too. More than 95,000 cases of UPI fraud transactions have been documented in the country since 2022. The number of cases recorded every year is on a gradual rise and it is paramount that the citizens are educated about them and are equipped with the knowledge to protect themselves against such scams.
Most common types of UPI scams
Phishing involves scammers sending you an unauthorized payment link. These fake links look similar to the original bank URL to bait users into clicking it. If clicked, the link will redirect the user to the UPI application on their device and perform auto debit. These links often infect the device, causing further harm.
It is to be remembered that banks and government agencies do not request financial information via SMS. The best way to avoid falling prey to phishing is by not opening the suspicious link and blocking the source.
In case you have already clicked the link and have lost money through UPI, immediately inform the bank or the e-wallet company to block the wallet and prevent further loss.
scammers place their phone numbers on business sites and when unknowing users purchase something they’re asked for payment via UPI transaction. In such cases, the user does not receive any product, however, the money has already been lost.
To protect yourself from such scams, always purchase products from verified e-commerce sites and if possible always opt for payment after delivery. Any vendor that asks for payment using UPI without providing any option must not be trusted. In case you have already fallen prey to this scam, immediately inform the authorities and change your UPI pin as there is a risk of UPI hacking.
scammers send malicious links to users in the guise of a ‘reward’. Once the user takes the bait and clicks on the link and authorizes the transaction, money is deducted from their account rather than being added like they have been led to believe.
Never make transactions to any random website that offers you money or asks you to claim some kind of reward. Websites will also often offer money to make a ‘test transaction’, these are not to be trusted.
Money Transfer by Mistake
This is a more elaborate scam where cyber criminals send a small amount of money to random users via UPI. Then they call them and say that the transfer was a mistake and asks them to return the amount. The scammer shares a link with the user asking them to make the transaction through it. On clicking the link and entering the UPI pin for the transaction, the user loses control of their digital wallet.
Do not make UPI transactions through links that have been shared with you. In case of any accidental transactions, contact the bank to verify the transaction and make the return through the bank itself. This will protect you from UPI scams and will also help weed out scammers.
A fairly new scam where the scammers target users saying that they have received a reward. They send a QR code to the user and ask them to scan it to receive the reward or cashback. On scanning and entering the UPI pin, an amount is deducted from the account instead of being credited.
Do not scan any QR codes from unauthorized sources. It is to be remembered that cashback and rewards from random websites are not to be trusted.
How to Identify Scams?
Investigations have revealed that scammers follow a certain pattern while operating.
1. Scammers often disguise themselves as bank employees
2. They ask for basic information like name, birthday, address, etc.
3. They ask the user if they have faced any UPI-related issues and ask for details about the same.
4. As the conversation moves forward they will begin to ask for more information
5. They may ask you to download any app (note: the app can be a malicious data scanning app)
6. Scammers will send a 9-digit code
If a person who has contacted you under the guise of a bank employee follows such a pattern or anything similar to this, be vary and do not share any UPI or bank details with them. Ask them for their credentials and verify their legitimacy.
Other Tips to Avoid UPI Scams and Frauds
- Read UPI-related RBI guidelines carefully.
- Do not share any of your bank details with anyone, not even with a person asking as a bank employee.
- If you notice any unauthorized debits, report them immediately.
- Get customer service numbers from official websites only.
- Always double-check payment requests.
- Do not click on spam links.
- Avoid unauthorized e-commerce sites.
- Change the UPI pin regularly for an extra step of protection.
Consider this guide on UPI scams to protect yourself from potential theft. Implementing technical security and identifying scams will ensure a smooth and seamless UPI experience.