New Delhi: Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) is a retirement savings/investment options for many. A lot of people rely on their EPF savings to help them be financially independent after retirement. However, scammers have now found ways to defraud people of their hard-earned money. Recently, a 68-year-old, retired man named Rajendra Khanna saved himself from paying Rs 20,000 to a fraudster.
How fraudsters try to scam you:
A Moneycontrol report stated that in January this year Khanna received a call on his mobile number from an unknown source. The person on the other side pretended to be a staff member from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). The fraudster went on to ask Khanna to verify personal details such as mobile number, email ID, Aadhaar number, Permanent account number (PAN), last employment details and universal account number (UAN) etc. Thinking the call is legit and the person is really an EPFO representative, Khanna gave these details to the caller.
The financial daily report further mentioned how the fraudster told Khanna that since he had worked between 1990 and 2019, he was eligible for a benefit of Rs 80,000 from the EPFO. The fraudster spun more lies like the management had decided to share the benefits of the unclaimed EPFO corpus with randomly selected EPFO subscribers. In order to trap Khanna into this trap, the scammer told him that in order to claim this amount, Rajendra needs to transfer Rs 20,000 as commission to a particular bank account and get Rs 80,000 credited to his bank account later without hassles.
Rather than falling for the trap immediately, Khanna decided to keep the call on hold and check the official website of the EPFO. Upon opening the official website, he was shocked to read a pop-up message with an alert that said, “EPFO never asks you to share your personal details such as Aadhaar / PAN / UAN over the phone. Also, EPFO never calls any member/subscriber to deposit any amount in any bank account for processing an unclaimed amount. Please do not respond to such fake calls.”
Khanna was quoted in the report saying, “I had disconnected the call immediately after reading the alert on the EPFO website. Later, I tried to reach the fraudster by calling on the same number to seek further explanation.”
Fake website, callers fraud:
Note that numerous EPFO subscribers have been targeted by fraudsters in a similar way and some of these people have even ended up transferring amounts to fraudsters’ bank accounts. As social media is penetrating small towns, fraudsters also share website links on social media claiming that employees who worked between 1990 and 2019 and found their names in the list given in the website are eligible for benefits of Rs 80,000 from the EPFO.
An official from EPFO was also quoted in the report saying, “On clicking the link shared on social media, the website with the domain ‘.top’ gets opened. Government websites generally have the domain ‘.gov.in’. So, it’s one way to identify phishing websites.”
What to do if you are a victim of such scams?
If someday you get scammed by such fraudster, you should immediately lodge a first information report (FIR) report with the cyber-police department in your area. Explain the whole incident in detail to the concerned police personnel for their investigation. Provide all details such as email ID, mobile or landline number you received the call from, or the website you used, etc.
Also, notify the EPFO office in your area of the fraud and this will help EPFO keep an eye on any unauthorised activity happening in your PF account on your behalf. It is to be mentioned that EPFO has already warned on social media, asking subscribers to not respond to fake offers from websites, telemarketers, SMS, email or social media claiming to help in making settlements. It also has a pop-up alert notice on its website warning subscribers of such fraud.