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Phone Pe Users Hit With Massive UPI Fraud, Company Assures Action

Cyberbullying or online fraud is not a new threat to the world. Only the methods to jeopardize a user’s digital wallet through various means of frauds leading authorized transactions are different. Some manage to escape while some get trapped. They just wait for your one casual move and in the blink of an eye, the damage is done!

On Saturday afternoon, I raised a complaint on Twitter to a leading online payment system, Phone Pe (Flipkart is the parent company), about an unfair deduction of some amount from the wallet linked to my bank account. Within a few minutes, an unverified, but official, customer support Twitter handle of Phone Pe (@PhonePeSupport) replied and asked me to share the details of my transaction including my registered phone number and the transaction ID, for further assistance. I thought to share the details; meanwhile, I was also concerned about the ‘unverified’ Twitter customer support handle of the popular digital payment app, recently endorsed by the famous Bollywood actor Mr. Aamir Khan.

The next moment I received a direct message (DM) from @Phone_pe_ regarding my query. (However, the official handle of Phone Pe is @PhonePe_ and chat support, @PhonePeSupport). I couldn’t differentiate between the two Ids. It asked me to share my phone number, which I did. Till this moment, I assumed that it is the same unverified handle of Phone Pe that asked me to share the details earlier. In the next message, I was requested to share my Unified Payment Interface (UPI) ID…… and here I held back. It raised a red flag.

Well, there are plenty of awareness campaigns and advertisements in today’s world where you are appealed not to share your crucial information related to your bank accounts or payment gateway wallets with anyone unless it comes from the company itself. But how to verify that on the other side of the screen or phone is a friend or a foe?

I denied sharing my UPI ID and questioned the efficacy of that Twitter account, @Phone_pe_. Soon I found myself blocked by that account. Now, it didn’t take me too long to decipher that on the other side of the screen there is a ‘Third Party Foe’ donning the camouflaged official purple logo of Phone Pe, disguising as the customer chat support for the same. It definitely saved me from getting my bank account compromised but the entire sabotage compelled me to think and look for whether similar instances occurred with others also.

Zubair Khan, a student from Jalandhar raised a complaint to Phone Pe on Twitter about a refund failure worth 11,999 rupees by Flipkart. As per the threads on Twitter, he mentioned that he made the payment for a mobile phone to the e-commerce portal via Phone Pe but wished to get it refunded it. Not receiving the refund in time, he sent a tweet to Phone Pe Support. In a similar pattern, he received a DM from the duplicate Twitter account of Phone_Pe_. Unlike me, Zubair failed to decipher the fraud and ended up sharing his UPI ID. He said on phone, “I was sent a link asking for my permissions, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. I clicked Yes. I thought I am going to receive my money back, but next moment, I received a message that my account is debited with rupees 11,999. Not only this, I was again asked to click ‘Yes’ for a 23,999 rupees link but it was enough, however late, to get that I was just tricked by a fraud.”

Another person with Twitter handle @Bbpandit (Balkrishna Bhardwaj) complained that someone stole 60,000 rupees after he, unfortunately, shared his UPI in DM. The pattern was almost similar.

@Lalitait16 tweeted about a Phone Pe fraud. He talked to me and conveyed that he lost 5000 rupees after he shared UPI in DM with @Phone_Pe_.

There were several other complaints on Twitter against the inefficiency of Phone Pe to address these complaints properly and provide hassle-free customer service. Phone Pe says that a Third-Party fraud cannot be controlled. But the customers have nothing to do it. They will tend to think that because of the incapability of the merchant failing to deal with the situation, we are losing money.

The Delhi Metro levies conditional penalties to customers on every metro card recharge failure. An executive of Phone Pe informed me that Delhi Metro levies 2.5% charge on every recharge failure. Phone Pe replied to me, “as per Metro if a user doesn’t tap on the AVM machine then they charge a 2.5% fee and refund the remaining amount. Further, we never ask our customers for any confidential information.”

It implies that I have to pay extra due to some loopholes in the network or anomaly the interface of Phone Pe. Isn’t it bizarre? The most interesting thing is that I have never been charged for any recharge failures, previously. The new rule saw the light of the day after my complaint.

There are numerous complaints against Phone Pe. Most of them are related to UPI frauds by @Phone_pe_, unfair deduction, and refund failures/delay. Phone Pe says they do not intend any of its customers to have a bad experience but nothing concrete can be done so far. Customers have lost their valuable money. Phone Pe direly needs to strengthen the security policies to retain the customers. Otherwise, this Digital India has no dearth of online payment systems but I wish Phone Pe reforms its services and proves our data are in safe hands and actor Aamir Khan is a justified brand ambassador for the product.

(My unfair deduction by Phone Pe was worth 8 rupees only.)

By TIS Staffer
the authorBy TIS Staffer

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