Tuesday, December 18, 2018
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Posted at: Dec 2, 2018, 1:55 AM; last updated: Dec 2, 2018, 1:55 AM (IST)CONSUMERS BEWARE!

Fraudulent credit, real harm

Pushpa Girimaji

Last week, I got a text message on my cell phone from my bank saying that Rs 90,000 had been credited to my account. As I was not expecting such a credit, I was a little puzzled, but could not identify the sender from the message. However, after some time, I got a call from someone who said he was calling from the Central Board of Indirect Taxes. He said that he had, by mistake, credited a GST refund to my account and pleaded that if his superiors got to know of it, he would lose his job. He said he would appreciate my sending the money to the correct account number and gave me a number. I promised to do so, but because of an emergency at home I could only go to the bank the next day. Even as I was filling a form for electronic transfer to that account, I got a message that the credit of had been reversed. When I checked with my bank, I was told that the cheque had bounced. When I told my bank what had happened, they said it was a fraud meant to cheat me of Rs 90,000. I am really shaken by this experience. How can I ensure that I do not become a victim of such scams?

You are lucky that you did not transfer the money and this experience will make you more alert to such scam calls. I do not know how the fraudster got your bank account details and your phone number, but that’s for the police to investigate. Do share the number with the economic offences wing of the police and lodge a complaint of fraud. Give a photocopy of your bank transaction for proof. They should be able to catch the trickster through the phone number as well as the bank account.

Whenever someone credits money into a wrong account, there is a procedure to be followed. The payee has to first inform her/his bank in writing about the erroneous credit and the bank has to contact the beneficiary’s bank, which, in turn, will ask the beneficiary for permission to reverse the credit. It’s only on the beneficiary’s acceptance in writing that the bank can reverse the credit. So, if someone calls you and tells you about an erroneous credit, ask them to follow due process. In case of cheque transactions, always follow up on the first text message from the bank about the credit and make sure that the cheque is cleared and the amount is in your account.

Last year, Pune resident Pavitra Velpuri had written about a similar fraud on her Facebook page. Here, a man pretending to be the buyer of a stroller she was trying to sell through an online portal, had told her that he had mistakenly transferred Rs 13,500 instead of Rs 3,500 to her towards payment. He asked her to deposit Rs 10,000 in his mother’s Paytm account. Fortunately, Pavitra decided to check her bank account before making the payment and found that there was no money transfer! 

These days scamsters are ‘effectively’ using technology to commit frauds. Consumers have also been tricked into giving their credit card or debit card pin number to fraudsters pretending to be bank officials. Even bank officials cannot ask for such details. As those out to cheat are always coming up with new tricks, one has to exercise utmost caution.

Should I lodge a complaint with my bank?

Yes, write to your bank as well as the Reserve Bank of India and ask them to take it up with the payee bank. Lastly, always be alert and do not get taken in by con artistes.

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