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Cyber Crimes - Deal with it

In today's age and time, we hear many news about increasing cyber crimes. During the current COVID 19 situation, we have also seen a dramatic rise in such frauds and crimes.

I am an early sleeper and when I checked my phone in the morning on 22nd July 2020, I was in for a shock. Someone had attempted usage of my Axis Bank Credit Card several times previous night and those transactions were blocked since the OTP is mandatory for transactions in India.

However, one of the transactions that was tried on an US website had gone through and I had lost INR 49,475.

I took the following steps to contain any further damage:

Blocked the Credit Card using mobile banking App to avoid any further damage due to a compromised card

Called up the Axis Bank Call Center immediately to intimate them about the fraudulent transactions. They requested me to fill up a dispute form and submit it at the nearest Axis Bank Branch. Luckily, the branch is less than 200 m away from my residence.

When I went to the branch to report this incident with a covering letter and the dispute form, they insisted on getting a FIR copy before lodging a dispute claim. I was a bit agitated because I was being asked to run around during the COVID 19 lock-down.

When I visited the local police station, they asked me if the Credit Card was in my possession or was stolen. I showed them the Credit Card to confirm that the card was indeed with me. They said that this is not a case of credit card theft and it is a theft due to the weak security systems of the bank. The police is not responsible for such cases and the bank has to deal with it. However, the PSI was kind enough to share his mobile number and told me that I could patch him up with the bank branch officials if they refused to lodge the dispute claim. I requested him to acknowledge that I had visited the police station for a FIR request. While they refused to lodge a FIR, they did stamp my dispute form to prove that I had visited the police station for such complaint.

I went back to the bank and narrated the experience to them. They insisted for a FIR copy. However, when I offered to connect them to the PSI of the local police station over phone, they accepted the dispute form stamped and signed by the local police station.

Just to be sure I follow the right steps, I decided to lodge an online complaint with the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal the next day. This portal has improved a lot and it is easy for ANY citizen with an internet connection to lodge an online complaint of cyber crime.

You get a proper PDF report of your complaint on email once you register it on the portal.

Next day, I got a SMS from them that my case was being transferred to the local police station in a formal manner.

In a couple of days, the bank granted temporary credit for the disputed amount and intimated me that the formal closure may take up-to 30 days after a detailed investigation.

Finally, today (on 21st August 2020), I got a formal closure of the dispute with a credit of the complete amount in my credit card account.

While it took some effort to go through the process, it was fairly simple to follow it up. I had to spend a total of around 90 minutes to complete all the procedures and could get back my hard earned money. Overall, the bank and the police were helpful, though I still do not understand why a formal FIR was denied when I first visited the police station.

It is actually difficult to estimate when the credit card would have got compromised - typically, the criminals would not use the card immediately after they get access to card details avoid getting traced back.

A possible protection measure would be to disable the card for any transactions via the mobile app so that it can be used only when you explicitly want to use it. However, I had left it active since I also used the card for recurring transactions.

I have written this detailed post to re-affirm my faith that if you follow-up on such cases in a proper manner, you can surely get back your hard-earned money. Do not give up!

Finally, all's well that ends well.

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