FASTag & Fraud Risk – Awaiting the Road to Safer Datafication!

The road ahead for India of developing a toll-operate-transfer model has an optimal FASTag implementation at its core, coupled with a robust data-forward centralised system. FASTag – the government of India’s electronic toll collection mechanism – is made official since 15 January 2020. While the government cited a lack of availability of FASTag tags as a reason behind yet another delay in granting it an officially mandating subscription obligation for car owners, the pertinent issue that stares in the eyes of the policymakers is concerning the UPI (Unified Payment Interface) subscriber data safety.

It has been reported that in certain instances, the notorious digital fraudsters have succeeded in applying novel ways to meddle with people’s UPI PIN data, access to which the fraudsters gain via manipulative means – acting on the pretext of simplifying for the potential registrants the online (afresh) FASTag registration.

On a couple of occasions, reports have surfaced revealing the modus operandi used by fraudsters wherein they pretend to be calling from either of the registered partner banks; sharing via SMS a fake link to a (deceitfully titled) online form seeking such sensitive subscriber details as FULL NAME, registered mobile number, UPI PIN data, etc. on the pretext of FASTag wallet activation.

It is vital for the FASTag subscribers at this stage to realise the fact that such baseless registration means proposed and pitched by fraudsters are not the official platforms introduced by the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) to register for FASTag access. Be mindful that FASTags can only either be self-activated via the MyFastag app or can be activated by visiting the designated (partnering) bank branches nearby.

Therefore, readers should clearly understand that no FASTag subscription or activation formalities are officially carried out on phone calls. Likewise, there is simply no need for sharing any PIN or password in such fraudulent online forms. Clicking on any fictitious SMS links received from doubtful sources should strictly be avoided. Kindly also be advised that there also exists an alternative of registering for NHAI Prepaid wallet which is rechargeable and can be paired with FASTag to initiate safe payments.

As per an Economic Times report, around 6.4 crore FASTag transactions, valuing Rs. 1,256 crore, got processed in December 2019, compared to 3.4 crore transactions valuing Rs. 774 crore in November – as per the FASTag transactions’ data released on January 1, 2020 by the National Payments Corporation of India. Considering the magnitude of transactional volume and the monetary value, it’s vital to sensitise people regarding a safer FASTag navigation pathway especially in its initial years of the rollout; for ensuring safety in the subsequent payment phases, a robust security protocol of NPCI already exists in the form of the Fraud Risk Management mechanism.