Banking Ombudsman advises people not to fall prey to fraudulent mails, SMSs

As customers merrily embrace new age banking practices, frauds related to net banking, credit cards and debit cards in the city are also on the rise with the Banking Ombudsman’s office here receiving an average three to four complaints daily from Bangaloreans.

What is unnerving is that while criminals skim the cards there, the frauds are perpetrated in Russia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and United Kingdom among others, pointing to the role of international gangs operating in the city.

This note of caution comes from none other than the office of the Banking Ombudsman.

“The number of such cases brought to the notice of the Ombudsman was just [maybe] one case a week or even a month about three or four years ago,” Ombudsman M. Palanisamy, told The Hindu. “Cards are being skimmed here and used on foreign soil. Bank customers have to be extremely careful while using the cards as well as net banking facility.”

Loss in lakhs

While customers whose cards are skimmed are defrauded an average Rs.50,000, the losses due to net banking fraud can run into several lakhs for individuals, he added. Among the big fraud cases that have come to the notice of the Ombudsman’s office in recent months is that of an individual being ripped off of Rs. 16 lakh and a company losing Rs. 32 lakh.

Complaints received in Bangalore pertain to fraudulent ATM withdrawals, transactions at merchant establishments and net banking transactions, he added.

The operation

Details of credit or debit cards are captured in the ATMs using gadgets when unsuspecting customers swipe them, and a duplicate card is generated (the process is known as skimming). Net banking frauds happen with malware, a software programme designed for fraudulent activities.

“In a majority of cases that have come before us, customers have responded to emails disclosing confidential information related to bank accounts, personal identification numbers and passwords. These mails purportedly originated from Reserve Bank of India, Income Tax Department and government departments. Customers have been asked not to respond to such mails and SMSs and not part with any information,” a release said from the Ombudsman’s office said.