"There ain't no such thing as free lunch," is an adage which almost all of us know but prefer to ignore at the slightest hint of someone offering something for free, often even if it is of no use to us.
Messages making such offers are now being increasingly forwarded on social media, the latest one by an automobile major, promising free cars as part of its 150th anniversary. A link embedded with the message takes the user to a webpage containing a questionnaire, which has to be filled up to 'win' the car.
The survey and the related process are all part of a con job. The user will not get the car, but will end up sharing his/her IP address and other details.
The details thus shared - albeit unknowingly - are used for several purposes, including marketing and even siphoning off money from the user's bank account. So, what if you get such a fake message?
• It is unlikely that any firm will offer anything free of cost
• Look for emojis and symbols in the message. No company of repute will use them
• Take a close look at the embedded link, mostly created using letters, symbols and numerals. The firm's name, too, may be partially included. Official websites of reputed companies will not have such 'junk' characters.
• Several firms make offers on special occasions. Such offers will be published in credible print and other media. It will also be published on the firm's website.
A similar tactic is being used in fake messages forwarded for committing financial frauds. Banks seek the customer's details (Know Your Customer or KYC) for added safety.
However, several gangs are actively conning customers into updating the KYC with a message saying "otherwise your account will be blocked." If you unload the KYC to the link provided, the fraudsters will get the details, and if possible, your money too!
Banks have repeatedly alerted the customers that they won't seek KYC details through text messages. Next time you get an SMS asking for your KYC details, ensure that you do not fall for it.