It is a fact that in a country of over 1.3 billion people, more than 1 billion Indians will be online by 2030 — every second, three more Indians will experience the power of the Internet for the first time. One of the two major factors that have propelled this inclusion is the increasing penetration of the Internet in the country. In 2011, the Internet penetration rate stood at only 10% of the total population. However, it is worth noticing that about 323 million people in India accessed the Internet through their mobile phones in 2016, which corresponds to about 24.3 per cent of the country’s population.
The emergence of the smartphone in India has led to an increase in the Internet penetration, fueling a new level of consumerism in the country. Between June 2012 and 2016, mobile Internet users increased by over 560% and in the same span the online shopping consumption increased over three folds. As per Experian’s Fraud Report 2017, the Indian consumers have the highest exposure to online fraud in the APAC region and the maximum shopping apps per person– an average of 3. This is an increasing trend as India stands amongst the top four countries in the region with highest digital adoption, but unlike the other three, it has high rate fraud incidents.
With such a progressive exposure of consumers shopping online, creating their accounts across entertainment, Indians are willing to share their personal data to register on websites and apps. In such a clockwork process that starts from giving data and getting desired products or services, the most important factor becomes the security of this data. If this personal data gets into wrongs hands, the consumer can be subjected to malice in the form of various frauds through hacking, phishing, ID theft etc. In 2017 credit cards fraud increased by 24% in comparison to 2016. The percentage might be small but when we put it in numbers, the cost is high.
Nonetheless, it is imperative for consumers to safeguard their data in order to avoid any form of mishaps:
1. Be cautious of uploading documents on social media: There are incidents where consumers upload documents on social media or online which have sensitive data or document such as credit reports, bank statements etc. This type of data that carry personal contact and bank information can compromise a customer’s identity. A consumer should go through the document at length before uploading it on any online portal. If it is imperative to upload a sensitive document, a user should make sure that the portal is trustworthy and secure.
2. Checking the URL: A user must thoroughly check the URL of the website before feeding in their personal information. There are incidents of ‘Pagejacking’ where clicking on a link may redirect the user to a website that they would be expecting to open. Though the webpage would look exactly like the one on the actual website, the URL will always be different. This is mostly to deceive the user into feeding key data, which would get collected in the hacker’s database and later can be used for identity theft.
3. Phishing calls and messages: Sometimes, users may receive calls or messages stating that they have won a prize from the bank. This will further go on to ask them to authenticate themselves with the help of their bank account number/card number, an OTP number that you might have received on your phone or other personal data. As a preventive measure, the consumers should not entertain such communication. If a fraudulent transaction has taken place, the user should inform their associated firm immediately.
4. Avoid downloading files from unknown sites: Downloading files from unknown sources can create many problems when it comes to keeping your data safe on the computer. The downloaded file is in the form of a document/song/video etc. and can contain malware/spyware that can dig up the data stored in your PC (personal computer) and can transmit it to any remote location. If it is necessary that you download a file from the unknown source, make sure to get it scanned with a software that helps detect any such anomalies.
5. Change your passwords frequently: Changing your password frequently helps in preventing fraud. These passwords can range from your shopping apps, social media passwords or bank login passwords. If the passwords are dynamic, it would make it hard for fraudsters to trace or hack. In addition, also make sure that the strength of your password is strong, making it difficult to guess. Avoid using combinations that are easily relatable to you such as your phone number, date of birth, pet’s name etc.
With a growing market of people going online and the push for a cashless economy, methods to prevent fraud by protecting data would go a long way to keep your money where it belongs.
(By Vaishali Kasture, Managing Director, Experian Credit Bureau and Country Head, Experian India)