Banks sound alarm over fraud Aadhaar-link calls
KOLKATA: Citizens getting calls for linking bank accounts to Aadhaar — and adhere to the December 31 deadline — should be careful, especially the senior citizens. Although the deadline was extended, the fraud calls have not stopped.
A couple of days back an 83-year-old woman Dipti Mukherjee, residing at Middleton Street, located close to Park Street was surprised when she got a call froma person alleging to be an State Bank of India (SBI) executive and asked her to link her Aaadhaar number. Mukherjee had no account with SBI. The elderly had recently undergone a surgery and is currently bed ridden. So, the phone was answered by her nurse.
When they kept calling time and over, the nurse handed the phone to her grand daughter who is a journalist. The caller demanded Mukherjee’s ATM card number and Aadhaar number be relayed to him.
“My grand daughter told the man that I have no ATM card. The caller then insisted her to check and even threatened to block the account. My granddaughter asked him to go ahead and so. This sobered him and he repeated his request. It was then that I suggested they come to my house and show their identification. Then they put my grand daughter on hold and after a few seconds, they informed her that SBI had no such policy,” said Mukherjee.
It is now widely known that elderly people receive phishing calls on their phone with the callers seeking their bank account details. Adopting a new modus operandi, the callers tell people that if they fail to meet the December 31deadline to link their accounts with Aadhaar, their accounts will be inoperative. The fraudsters say that since the private enrolment agencies are not working, the bank has taken the onus to reach out to customers. Cops are presently probing several such complaints.
When Mukherjee’s family members put out their experience on Twitter, SBI responded from their official handle, asking customers to be careful. “SBI or its employees never seek sensitive information like card details, internet banking passwords etc. through phone/ email. We advise all our customers not to fall prey to such fraudulent calls/emails. Any such attempt may be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org,” it tweeted.
While this attempt was to steal the bank details, there is another side to it. The modus operandi of this racket involves a complicated procedure in which a caller, pretending to be a representative of the Unique Identification Authority of India, which manages the Aadhaar database, calls the victim with the pretext of linking their Aadhaar with their Permanent Account Numbers.
The caller first asks the victim for their Aadhaar number and then tells them this is a verification call. The caller then asks them to reveal the code sent to their registered phone number from Unique Identification Authority of India to complete the verification process.
The conman then uses the OTP to change the phone number linked to the victim’s Aadhaar number on the website. “The perpetrators are suspected to have replaced the victims’ phone numbers with numbers in their possession. The conman’s next step is to download a popular United Payment Interface-supported application, which automatically detects Aadhaar numbers linked to the SIM card of the phone in which the banking application is installed. At the end of this operation, the conman has access to the victim’s bank account and can initiate banking transactions.
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