Recently, a woman from Seemapuri in East Delhi lost Rs 1 lakh after becoming a victim of a Google search fraud.
Sadly, she is one among many.
These days, scamsters have found a new way to hoodwink innocent netizens through something as simple as the Google search. While Google has no role in this foul play, its service (which is mostly quite helpful) is being misused by fraudsters.
So, what exactly happens in such cases of fraud?
When we are searching for an organisation’s customer care number, most of us look up the first hit on Google. This lady had some issues with her e-wallet account and was doing the same.
She called the first number that came up in the search and upon assuming that it was the official number, shared all her card details, hoping to get a refund. Before she knew it, her bank account was robbed of Rs 1 lakh.
The same thing happened with a government organisation as well. Yet another fraudster changed the contact details of an Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) office in Mumbai on Google, because of which, many people ended up getting duped by sharing their confidential details.
Here is everything you need to know about this kind of fraud:
1. How are fraudsters able to make changes to phone numbers/ contact details on Google?
Well, it’s not that hard, and even you can do it as Google allows anyone to edit contact details of shops/banks and other establishments on Google Maps and Google search to enhance these services.
2. As most of us blindly trust Google and remain relatively unaware of online scams and frauds, we don’t give a second thought about the numbers provided after the search. By replacing the original contact details with their own numbers, these fraudsters pose as customer care representatives, leading to no suspicion.
3. What is worse is that these fake representatives ask the customers their personal bank details by citing the need for verification. And they have become good at their game, as an unsuspecting customer would find no reason to mistrust an “official” customer care representative, even when being asked for confidential details like bank account number and ATM card details.
4. The fraudsters even redirect callers to fake Interactive Voice Response (IVR) recordings to pull their scheme seamlessly. While Google has acknowledged this issue, no changes have been made to this errant provision, so far.
5. So, what can you do?
It is important on our part to not blindly believe any online information, even if it is believed to be that of a government organisation, to be credible.
Do not rely on the details provided by Google. Even if it takes some extra time, make sure that you visit the official websites of the concerned authorities for their contact details.
Also, in case you end up making the call on the number provided by Google, refrain from sharing your personal information, no matter how convincing the people sound on the phone.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)