#StaySafe: The Free Voucher Message You Just Got Is A Scam

Free Voucher Messages on WhatsApp
Image used for representation only.

Ever received an SMS, WhatsApp or a message on facebook from websites and large brands offering freebies, heavy discounts and unbelievable offers?

Beware! It could be a fraudster looking for your personal details that are later used in scams.

Quite recently a case was registered by Mumbai Police (Cyber Crime) under the IT act for circulating fake vouchers of popular brands to access the details of the user. It was a forwarded text that said, “D-Mart is giving FREE INR2500 shopping vouchers to celebrate its 17th anniversary. Click here to get yours (link). Enjoy”. While clicking upon the link, personal details are sought.

The sudden rise of violence and online frauds has gathered a lot of attention thanks to citizens unwittingly falling prey to these seamsters.

Advocate Rajas Pingle, Cyber Law and Cybersecurity expert says, “Nowadays it is very unsafe to share personal or sensitive personal information on WhatsApp or any other social media platform.

Furthermore, never assume the person who has emailed, texted, called you on the phone is who they claim they are, or represent who they claim to represent.

Lastly, never click on a link provided in the text message, especially from an unknown sender.”

Forwarding such messages is a criminal offence under Section 66D of the Information Technology Act which states as under:[Section 66D] Punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resource:

Whoever, by means of any communication device or computer resource cheats by personation, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.

If the message appears to be “too good to be true” then it probably is.

Be very cynical when someone has shared a post offering eye-catching deals on items like cheap goods, discount tech or money off a shop.

The best way to create awareness among people is via the social network, online media and print media. Pingle added.

Prakash Kulkarni, Senior Professional says, “Looking at these online fraud cases 90 per cent victims are either 40 and above or people who are not that techno-savvy or aware of the digital technology.”

People above the age of 40 think that they’re well aware of the technology and while transacting they ensure they’re safe. But most of the times, due to lack of knowledge or awareness about the online crime, elders and senior citizens tend to share their atm number, Pin number, CCV number.

They really don’t know how someone can misuse their personal information. Free vouchers, cash back, and free gifts have always been a major attraction and it is not restricted to any age.

Every one of us is attracted to easy money.

Many are unaware of the scams which are online these days, When we open such links and click the fake links, the cyber criminals can install cookies on your browser that track your online activities.”

The worst part of this is it comes from a trusted source or contact who has forwarded it without reading or checking.

WhatsApp Official Advt
The Official Advertisement Released by WhatsApp in Today’s News Dailies

Best way to identify this types of fraud is by checking their original website. Every authorized company has their website where they keep updating offers if any and if this has been announced it will be displayed on their site for sure. 

Common sense is what people need, nobody does business without profit so they will not go in a loss and give you an extra discount, Kulkarni added.

A city-based police official said it is a legal offence to spread such fake messages and seek personal information from an individual. Hoax message often have spelling mistakes and the Links have some unusual characters, sign or spellings.

Users should verify the facts before they are passing it on, It can be a serious criminal offence, so ensure the facts before you spread, he added.

“The vouchers spread in the groups or on personal messages are not harmful by themselves but that urge to click on the link for some free gifts or discounts is. Through this, a third person can case all your information, and later sell it or use it for unsolicited advertising says Ashish Landge, Techie.

It is easy to get fooled by these attracting offers, as those scammers with the links have created extremely professional looking websites and that makes it difficult to understand the difference between real and reel.

To stay safe, one should always check with their website, keep a close eye on the URL. We often don’t pay attention towards it and that is where the risk begins.

For scammers, it is the easiest way to earn money by selling your details, it becomes riskier when the link suggest of downloading a particular application that ends up installing a malware on your Smart Phones or laptops, Ashish added.

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Ankita Malekar

Ankita Malekar

A talkative tiny speck in the world of Media, with an itch for travel and paws.
Ankita Malekar

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