Is this a Diwali miracle or a potential Deceit?
Fake news in India refers to misinformation or disinformation in the country which is spread through word of mouth and traditional media and more recently through digital forms of communication such as edited videos, memes, unverified advertisements and social media propagated rumours. Fake news spreads over social media very easily these days. In fact, people barely authenticate any piece of news they have received over WhatsApp and pass it along. In recent times with Diwali approaching, there have been several such fake news doing the rounds.
This Diwali, some people are getting SMS claiming that income tax refund of Rs. 12,514 has been approved and that their bank a/c would be credited shortly. The message sent by the hackers almost seems genuine, as if it has been sent by the income tax department.
The text message also asks you to verify your account number. “If the same (a/c no.) is correct, quickly follow the link below to update your bank record on file,” it says.
Modi government’s PIB Fact Check team through its Twitter handle @PIBFactCheck has issued a clarification on this fake message. PIB says, “Don’t let frauds like this ruin your festive fervour! Celebrate Dhanteras2020 the way it is meant to be celebrated with joy and enthusiasm; NOT scams.”
The Income Tax department has repeatedly asked taxpayers to be wary of links sent via SMS/email.
Income tax refund is a process by which the Income Tax Department returns any excess tax paid by a taxpayer during a particular financial year (FY). This happens when the amount of tax paid by a taxpayer is more than his/her actual tax liability for that particular FY. The excess tax can be claimed as an income tax refund under Section 237 of the Income Tax Act, 1961. The amount of income tax refund claimed by a taxpayer by filing ITR is subject to verification by the Income Tax Department.
It is important to keep in mind that if any income tax refund is due, and it is being adjusted against the previous year outstanding tax demand, then assessee will be required to log in to their account on the e-filing website and then respond to it.
The official link of the tax department website is https://www.incometaxindia.gov.in and https://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/home. The Income Tax department has also asked the taxpayers to forward the email or link of the website pretending to be the tax department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this year also, The Income Tax Department, via its official Twitter handle, has asked taxpayers to steer clear of phishing links in the name of tax refunds. The department in its tweet said, “Taxpayers Beware! Please do not click on any fake link which promises to give refund. These are phishing messages and are not sent by the Income Tax Department.”
The message sent by the hackers almost seems genuine, i.e., almost as if it has been sent by the tax department. “Due to COVID-19 outbreak, Central Govt. has decided to provide tax refund to all tax payers. In order to provide them financial ease during lockdown. Click the link below.” This is a tactic used by many scamster’s.
The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India and the Reserve Bank of India had also put out cautionary messages asking people not to fall prey to fake links.
Such fake reports have been debunked by the government handle, which again brings to the point of not spreading on fake news blindly. So, to give the message, they have a mantra of #BurstFakeNews.