Pune: As internet accessibility in India continues to expand throughout the country and seamlessly across technology devices and daily life, so too do internet scams’ inventive ways in infiltrating consumers’ personal information. In an effort to educate people on the most notorious scams, Telenor Group, Telenor India’s major shareholder, today released the results of an Internet Scams study showing that the top three scams in India are the (1) ‘work from home’ fraud,(2) lottery scams and (3)fake bank email scam.
The multi-market survey assessed the impact of scams on 400 internet users aged 18 – 65+ in India Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia and was conducted to provide better understanding of the common methods in which people are “scammed” online. The results additionally glean the best internet scam prevention methods from experienced users, in order for netizens in India to gain more insight and education on the subject. And while many net consumers are now aware of e-mail frauds such as “official representatives” from a foreign government offering millions of dollars in return for an upfront fee, new scams are born every day and it’s important to assess the landscape of today’s online deceptions.
The study revealed that 85% of India’s internet users are familiar with the term ‘Internet Scam’ and feel open to online threats, with 63% saying they’re ‘very concerned’ about online scams—a third more than those who say they’re concerned with muggings. Online security is extremely relevant in India whereover one third of internet users surveyed have been victim to an internet scam and a further 57% know a friend or family member whohas been scammed online.
Further, for those surveyed who indeed have been subject to an online scam in India, 90% have lost money and compared to neighbors, the amount of money stolen is the highest. Regionally the average financial loss per person is 681,070INR($9900 USD), but alarmingly in India the average loss was 819,000 INR ($12,000 USD).
“As Indian netizens, we all know that scams exist but to see that the highest amount of money stolen via scams is in India shows this is an area we communally need to address. As a leader in telecommunications, Telenor India is dedicated to enhancing internet safety,” says Sharad Mehrotra, CEO Telenor India, “We hope that the findings from this digital consumer study will encourage all of us to take preventative measures to stay safe online.”
Most Notorious Online Scams
Of all the internet scams, below are the top three scams most frequently encountered in India:
1. Work from home’ fraud – 39%
2. Lottery scams – 25%
3. Fake bank email scam– 17%
The ‘Work from home’ is a scam whereby users are either fooled into paying someone online to help them start a business, only for nothing to materialize, or users are tricked into completing work on their computer but never receive payment. One quarter of the participants had been victim of lottery scam emails, where the user is prompted to pay a processing fee in order to win a large sum of money, and a further 17% had been victim to fraud from scammers pretending to be their bank to acquire personal information and funds.
Preventing Online Scams
While online scams are real, they are equally preventable. Half of internet users surveyed in India feel that responsibility to protect people online is with the government while nearly 60% feel the responsibility the website itself and equally feel a jail term for scammers is the best preventative measure to avoid an increasing online threat.
However, overall more than 80% of respondents feel it is the responsibility of each individual to ensure they’re safe online. As such knowledge and resources, helplines for victims, are key for reducing scam success.
“Telenor is working closely with GSMA to launch Mobile Connect to preserve online privacy, create a trusted environment and help mitigate the vulnerability of online passwords. Mobile Connect will enable mobile users to create and manage a digital universal identity via a single log-in solution. It can help prevent online scams and frauds as it uses a combination of subscriber’s mobile number and a unique PIN to verify and grant online access anywhere. The service securely and instantly authenticates users, enabling them to digitally confirm their identity and their credentials and grant safe on-line access to mobile and digital services such as e-commerce, banking, health and digital entertainment, and e-government, via their mobile phones.” Said Sharad.
Of the methods currently available, below are the top five most frequently used in India to help prevent personal risk of online scams:
1. Delete suspicious and untrustworthy emails
2. Update your anti-malware software
3. Do online research about scams
4. Ignore advertisements or offers that appear “too good to be true”
5. Share knowledge and preventative tips with friends and family through social media.
“India and Asia are dynamic regions with growing online populations. Alongside Telenor’s Internet for All strategy and the 2017 goal of achieving 200 million active internet users, there will be many more people online in the near future. With so many new users, we are committed to the safety of our internet users. We encourage our netizens to be aware of potential threats and to openly talk with friends and family about online welfare. In the digital world we mustn’t forget our real world principles, such as, ‘if something looks too good, it probably is’,” added Ola Jo Tandre, Head of Social Responsibility at Telenor Group.
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