Frauds Keeping Pace With Digitization In India

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India stands amongst the top four countries in the Asia Pacific region with highest digital adoption, digital banking account sign-ups, and utilization. Besides this there is another fact which possibly indicates the downside of the scenario, it is that India is the only country among these four to suffer high instances of frauds, reveals the ‘Asia-Pacific Fraud Insight’ report released by Experian, a global information service company. The report says that Indians are most susceptible to online frauds among  Asians and in India, almost one of every two persons is taken for a ride.

But the danger of being duped is not just to the customers, but also to the companies. As reported by Economic Times, loan frauds in India have steeply gone up in the fiscal year 2017, especially in car loans and personal loan categories. 0.37 percent of the auto loan applications in 2017 was estimated to be fraudulent compared to 0.23 percent in 2016. Similarly, 0.72 percent of personal loans were estimated to be fraudulent compared to 0.50 percent in 2016.

Frauds in 2016-2017

The survey reveals that the Indian retail merchants have experienced higher incidents of frauds – up to 5% of the gross merchandise value.

Indians worldwide are known for their tolerance or rather let’s put it as passive acceptance. Despite a high frequency of frauds, Indians are generally willing to accept occasional frauds involving minor monetary losses if given assurances of non-recurrence by the companies concerned. The average consumer base of India trust the banks more than the government. A higher rate of digital adoption has been witnessed in the country, post demonetization but this, on the other hand, has accelerated the rate of digital frauds too. According to the study conducted by Experian India, almost one among every two persons was beguiled directly or indirectly by these fraudsters.

Pallavi, 31, a homemaker and mother of two was busy with her regular household chores waiting for her 5-year-old son to return from school, suddenly she sees an anonymous number flashing on her mobile screen. She decides to answer it, much to her surprise it was the bank manager calling for some ATM-related assistance. She was a bit confused but then as soon as he retorted all her bank account details, she was more than convinced to very passively accept and answer all the questions that followed. After the 5 minutes long conversation she puts off the call and goes up to the door to receive her son, who by then was back from school. This time she hears three consecutive SMS alerts on her phone, like most of us she very candidly picked up her phone thinking it to be some offer notification but then was taken aback by the messages she read. Yes, she was robbed of her money, the three alerts were for each time these fraudsters withdrew 10000 bucks from her account. What happened with Pallavi is not bizarre but a very usual act of fraudism post demonetization.

According to a report in Times of India, various countries are trying to tackle online frauds with the help of a centralized National Ids ranging from biometric-enabled national ID to APIs for business to interface. The Aadhaar which is considered to be the most assertive National Ids faces several challenges when it comes to protection of data and privacy.

Across India, citizens are concerned about the privacy and safety issues with having to link Aadhaar with every other detail. The big question still remains unanswered, will the government take steps in the right direction to curb online frauds.

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