SBI customers have been warned against a new threat that could potentially lead fraudsters to siphon money off your account. While the entire world, including India, is going through a serious health crisis due to coronavirus pandemic, hackers have been using this time to trick people in new ways. India’s largest public lender identified a new type of cybercrime that could drain people’s bank accounts empty.

Since people are currently confined to their homes and requested to fulfill their banking needs over net banking or telephone, the risk of being defrauded is high if the person doesn’t practice caution. Recently, RBI offered EMI moratorium for individual and business borrowers in the interest of lockdown and coronavirus crisis that EMIs of any kind will be postponed to ease people’s worry. To that extent, the State Bank of India highlighted how fraudsters are now using the fake promise of postponing their loan EMIs to siphon money off people’s bank accounts.

How does fraud happen?

The caller might pretend to be a representative of SBI Bank and attempt to gather your information and share some basic details to appear legit. Once the fraudsters think it has won the trust of the victim, a financial transaction will be initiated to retrieve money from the bank account of the customer. To approve the transaction, an OTP is needed, which is then taken from the customer by promising EMI deferment.

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“A new style of cybercrime has been started by fraudsters. In such frauds, customers get calls asking them to share their OTP in order to postpone their loan EMIs. Once the OTP is shared, the amount is immediately siphoned away by fraudsters,” SBI warned.

Since customers are advised to stay home during the 21-day lockdown, the fraudster might suggest that the bank is doing this proactively to ensure optimum banking experience. But that’s just a front for a major con.

How to identify fraud?

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Frauds pretending to be bank repsREUTERS/Adnan Abidi

These fraudsters are well-versed with banking terminology and dialogue. It may be difficult to tell fraud and legit bank representatives apart at first. But here are a few precautions one must always practice to avoid falling prey to such frauds.

  • Never share OTP over the phone, NEVER!
  • Banks never ask customers for OTP, not any other personal bank details unless to verify your account with standard verification questions
  • SBI has clarified that EMI deferment does not require OTP

If you choose to avail of the moratorium, send an email application to the bank, which is the only way to defer EMIs. All relevant forms for this purpose are available on SBI’s official website. Customers must attach a NAHS/ECS mandate extension form with the application. Any other way offered in this regard is probably a fraud and customers are advised to be vigilant.

The same rules of fraud hold good for other banks, too. No banks will ask for an OTP verification over the phone to offer any kind of services, including EMI deferment.


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Is your business effected by a COVID-19 / Coronavirus related Cyber Crime? 

If a cyber crime or cyber attack happens to you, you need to respond quickly. Cyber crime in its several formats such as online identity theft, financial fraud, stalking, bullying, hacking, e-mail fraud, email spoofing, invoice fraud, email scams, banking scam, CEO fraud. Cyber fraud can lead to major disruption and financial disasters. Contact Digitpol’s hotlines or respond to us online. 

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