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Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS)
In an era where digital transactions have become the norm, safeguarding personal information has never been more critical. Despite the common advice of not sharing One Time Passwords (OTPs) or divulging bank account details, a new wave of fraud has emerged, exploiting the vulnerabilities of Aadhaar-enabled Payment Systems (AePS). Cybercriminals are now resorting to sophisticated methods, such as using cloned fingerprints, to operate biometric POS devices and ATMs, draining unsuspecting users’ bank accounts. This article explores recent incidents, government actions, and essential tips for Aadhaar holders to protect themselves from falling victim to AePS fraud.
Rising Threat: Cybercriminals Exploiting Aadhaar Biometrics
In a notable incident in Hyderabad in June 2022, a cybercrime gang was apprehended for fraudulently withdrawing ₹14.64 lakh from 149 customers. The criminals accessed documents from the Andhra Pradesh Registration and Stamps Department’s official website, seizing 2,500 cloned fingerprints and other gadgets used in the scam. A quick Google search reveals similar incidents reported across the country, highlighting the widespread nature of this threat.
Government Response and Suspended Mobile Numbers
In response to the surge in digital frauds, the government has taken action by suspending 70 lakh mobile numbers associated with suspicious transactions. A crucial meeting involving officials from the finance ministry, NPCI, RBI, and other stakeholders addressed the need for strengthening systems and processes. Financial services secretary Mr. Vivek Joshi emphasized ongoing efforts, with more meetings scheduled to address Aadhaar-enabled Payment System fraud in January. States have been urged to prioritize data protection, acknowledging the recent warnings by police officials about Aadhaar-related frauds.
Protective Measures: Tips for Aadhaar Holders
Here are some tips for aadhaar holders to protect themselves from fraud;
Not to Do: Never Share Aadhaar OTP or App Password
A primary safeguard against Aadhaar-enabled Payment System fraud is to never share Aadhaar OTP or app passwords with anyone. UIDAI representatives do not request OTPs through calls, emails, or SMS. Avoid sharing your Aadhaar mobile app password, and refrain from using the same password for other logins.
Not to Do: Share Aadhaar Card Number on Social Media
It’s crucial never to share your Aadhaar card number on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Maintaining the confidentiality of your Aadhaar details is paramount to prevent unauthorized access.
To Do: Keep Digital Copy of Your Aadhaar Card
The UIDAI recognizes digital Aadhaar cards. Instead of printing the card, save a digital copy on your mobile or laptop. If downloading on a public machine, remember to delete the local copy to prevent misuse.
To Do: Lock Your Aadhaar Biometrics
To prevent unintended Aadhaar-based transactions, lock your biometrics in UIDAI. This additional layer of security ensures that your biometric data remains inaccessible for unauthorized transactions.
To Do: Update Your Mobile Number on Aadhaar Card
Ensure your mobile number is updated on your Aadhaar card for basic verification and other features. If you haven’t registered or need to update your number, visit the nearest Aadhaar center.
To Do: Write the Purpose of Sharing Aadhaar
When providing your Aadhaar as identity proof, always mention the purpose. For instance, if sharing it for a bank account opening, write ‘Identity proof for account opening only at <XYZ> Bank’ on the document.
To Do: Regularly Track Aadhaar Card Usage History
Monitor the history of your Aadhaar card usage by logging into UIDAI’s official website. This enables you to track where your unique identification code was used, helping identify any suspicious activity.
To Do: Check for Aadhaar Biometric Lock
Visit UIDAI’s official website to check for an Aadhaar biometric lock or unlock system. This feature adds an extra layer of protection to the privacy of your Aadhaar data.
To Do: Go for Only UIDAI-Authorized Agencies
When updating Aadhaar details, rely only on UIDAI-authorized agencies. Never share or update your details elsewhere to minimize the risk of data compromise.
To Do: Report Immediately in Case of Suspicion
If you suspect any misuse of your 12-digit unique number, promptly notify the concerned authorities. Reporting promptly can aid in containing potential fraudulent activities and securing your Aadhaar information.
As technology advances, so do the methods employed by cybercriminals. Aadhaar holders must stay vigilant and follow these essential tips to safeguard their information in the face of Aadhaar-enabled Payment System fraud. By adopting these tips for aadhaar holders, individuals contribute to the collective effort to create a secure digital ecosystem, reducing the risk of falling victim to sophisticated cyber threats.
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