Freezing of bank account causes panic among Keralites

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Kochi: Complaints of banks freezing the accounts of several individuals, including small-scale merchants and shop owners, based on complaints over financial fraud received by the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal is causing panic among Keralites.

It is estimated that police of various states have sought freezing around 2,000 bank accounts of Keralites in the last couple of weeks.

It has impacted small-scale merchants who accept payments through online portals, those who engage in crypto mining and people using unconventional platforms for sending money from abroad.

The portal launched by the Union Government to address cybercrime complaints focuses on reducing cases of financial fraud in the country.

The complaints received in the portals are examined and later handed over to concerned state governments for further action. In financial fraud cases, scamsters often transfer money to separate bank accounts, buy products or invest in various services. Subsequently, when police receive a complaint, they quickly take measures to freeze the recipient's bank account.

Apart from payments through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), the police froze accounts that received deposits through NEFT, RTGS, and cheques. Though the action is aimed at curbing fraud, victims of account freezing have raised concerns that the complaints were not related to their accounts and the process is opaque.

The authorities will lift restrictions if the account holder furnishes the concerned IDs and documents to prove the reason for money to be transferred into the account. However, many on social media have claimed that they had to bribe the police to lift the ban.

The account holder has to go through lengthy procedures since these complaints are often probed by police from other states.

Cyber Safety Founder and the High Court advocate Jiyas Jismal said that account holders could approach concerned nodal officers in the state police stations if they believe their accounts are wrongly placed under restrictions.

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