What not to ‘Google’ and Why

I am writing this particular piece based on a few recent incidents. The incidents have led the individuals to lose considerable amount of money from their respective bank accounts. I had read the first few events online (you can read the details here: Event 1 and Event 2) and the other one, which I focus on in greater details in this article, happened to my friend’s uncle. All the incidents stemmed from the fact that they had used internet to search for a phone number and contacted the number that was displayed.

I will elaborate the story as it unfolded.

Uncle’s friend was expecting the delivery of a product. He wanted to know the status of the delivery and an expected time of delivery to his address. In order to track the details, he searched for the contact number of the delivery agency online. He used the most common search engine – Google – although similar incidents could have happened on any search engine. Google result showed him the number of the agency and he called. It was received by a representative who asked him the details of the product. He was informed that he could ensure a quicker delivery to the address by paying an additional amount of 20 rupees. Since he did not have the required means, credit card or any app for making the payment, he requested uncle to help him with the same. Uncle used his credit card to pay 20 rupees and lo and behold! He realized that after he paid twenty rupees, 25 thousand rupees (~350 dollars) were deducted from his account. It was not just the usage of credit card similar strategy has been followed in case the payment was made though GooglePay as well. Lucky for him, he realized his loss very soon and blocked his card immediately. It took him five months of consistent effort – multiple visits to banks, talking to a large number of people, connecting to anyone who could help – before he was able to get back his money. The others might not be so lucky.

The bottom line is: Do not trust and call the number that comes up in internet search, even if it is a listed agency. Only call a number from a trustworthy source and in any case, do not pay in a random account or a link that is texted on your phone.

Please share this with your friends and family members. I hope no one endures such a loss.

Published by Leena Bhattacharya

A researcher who finds solace in social work

One thought on “What not to ‘Google’ and Why

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