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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Mobile banking fraud: 4 things to do to keep your account secure
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Mobile banking fraud: 4 things to do to keep your account secure

Bank fraud: Strangers linked to customers' mobile numbers in multiple states

The RBI advisory says that the customers must not share OTPs with anyone, not even with bank employees (Mint)Premium
The RBI advisory says that the customers must not share OTPs with anyone, not even with bank employees (Mint)

An unprecedented fraud committed during the registration of an app has come to the fore. One media report suggested that the bank accounts of a number of customers — in a clear breach of rules — were linked to the mobile numbers of strangers.

In the light of this fraud, RBI has prevented Bank of Baroda from the onboarding of new customers on its app ‘bob World’.

In some cases, these strangers withdrew money from the bank accounts of the gullible customers in an act of fraud carried out in collusion with the bank employees.

The problem allegedly kicked off in March 2022 when the top management of the state lender started to pressurise regional branches for increasing the registration of ‘bob World’ customers.

The pressure was apparently so intense that the staff sometimes used their own mobile numbers to link the bank accounts of customers in order to increase the downloads of ‘bob World’. After having received the OTP on the mobile numbers of staff, the app registrations could be completed, and the number of downloads rose.

In some cases, these mobile numbers belonged to the agents of the bank known as business correspondents (BCs) who operate in the remote areas.

For downloads alone?

There were instances wherein the registrations were done solely to increase the downloads. And once these downloads were completed, these accounts were deregistered soon after and the same numbers were used again for linking other customers’ accounts.

An incident was reported where one nodal officer from the regional office – when reported about this – offered his as well as his wife’s mobile number to link to the customer’s bank accounts.

A media investigation has revealed that one recently-retired employee flagged these concerns by writing emails to the top management for putting relentless pressure on employees to increase the downloads.

One such email reads: “Activation of bob World is given so much pressure that almost a fraud-like situation is arising."

RBI isssued a press release on Oct 10 stating the action it took against the state lender after noticing the irregularities in onboarding of customers on its app.
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RBI isssued a press release on Oct 10 stating the action it took against the state lender after noticing the irregularities in onboarding of customers on its app.

What is shocking is that this was not a one-off case but a common practice carried out in Bhopal zone, UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jharkhand, reported The Reporters’ Collective and Al Jazeera in this article.

Some of these ‘strangers’ who linked their mobile numbers illegally to the bank customers went on to withdraw the money from the customers’ bank accounts. And a total of 362 customers lost 22 lakh to these fraudsters, internal audit reports have revealed, this media report wrote.

To avoid any of this fraud from happening to you, depositors are encouraged to follow these rules of thumb.

Tips to keep your account safe and secure
 

Linking mobile number

You must ensure to link your mobile number to your bank account as well as to the net banking as soon as you open a bank account. Once your mobile number is linked to the bank account, a new number cannot be linked.

Duly reflecting the balance

Make sure you receive a message upon withdrawal on your mobile phone. Whether the transaction relates to ATM withdrawal or a fund transfer, the debit in the account should be duly reflected in the real time.

Don’t share the OTP

The OTP you receive on your phone should never be shared with anyone. The RBI says that the password should not be shared even with the bank employees.

Suspicious activity

In case there is some suspicious activity, the matter should be immediately reported to the bank and to the cyber cops. It is the bank’s responsibility to recover the money that is transferred illegally on account of the bank’s fault.

 

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Published: 13 Oct 2023, 09:42 AM IST
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