July 2, 2022

PTI Fact Check: NPCI, Paytm debunk FASTag scam videos

Photo Caption: A toll plaza with a FASTag banner: For representational purpose (PTI Photo)

New Delhi, Jun 27 (PTI Fact Check) There is no way a smartwatch can be used to scan a FASTag and siphon money from it, the National Payments Corporation of India and Paytm have said in response to a video that is being circulated widely on social media and has led to alarm in many circles. 

Claims in the video, which show a child cleaning a windshield, scanning the FASTag using a smartwatch and then running away when questioned, are baseless and false, said NPCI, the organisation enabling digital payments and settlement systems in India. It is misinformation, added Paytm. 
 
The video clip, widely shared on different social media platforms, has amassed lakhs of views, shares and comments on multiple YouTube channels, Facebook and Twitter.
 
A voiceover in Hindi drives home the point: "This is the new scam that has started now. Kids begging at traffic lights are being given smartwatches with scanners embedded in them. While cleaning the car, they point their smartwatch towards the FASTag, and it e-scans your FASTag. Subsequently, the money is deducted from your Paytm account. The same has happened to me before also." 
The 3.42 minute clip has no attribution. 
 
similar claim about a 'FASTag scam' was also propounded by magician and illusionist Karan Singh in an interview to content creator Vinamre Kasanaa on his Dostcast YouTube channel. It garnered almost 1.5 lakh views and 11,000 shares.
 
FASTag, based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, is an electronic toll collection system made mandatory for all commercial as well as personal four-wheelers for payments at toll plazas since February last year.  
 
While Paytm discussed only the child video in its rebuttal, NPCI discussed the larger issue of videos making fake claims. 
 
"A video is spreading misinformation about Paytm FASTag that incorrectly shows a smartwatch scanning FASTag. As per NETC guidelines, FASTag payments can be initiated only by authorised merchants, onboarded after multiple rounds of testing. Paytm FASTag is completely safe & secure," Paytm said in a Twitter post.
 
Describing 'FASTag Scam' videos doing the rounds as "baseless" and "false", the NPCI also put out a long Twitter post explaining its point of view. 
 
It said the National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) FASTag ecosystem is built on a four-party model -- NPCI, Acquirer Bank, Issuer Bank, and Toll Plazas. "Several layers of security protocols are placed to ensure the end-to-end safe processing of transactions," it said.
 
"NETC FASTag operates only for Person to Merchant (P2M) transactions. No Person to Person (P2P) transactions are facilitated through NETC FASTag Network. This means an individual cannot receive the money in NETC FASTag ecosystem from fraudulent transactions," it added.
 
The claim in a video that smartwatches with scanners embedded in them are siphoning money from FASTags is  'false'. 
 

Claim: Children cleaning windshields at traffic lights are being given smartwatches with scanners that they use to skim money from FASTags. Subsequently, the money is deducted from Paytm accounts.
 

Fact: FASTag payments can be initiated only by authorised merchants. The National Electronic Toll Collection (NETC) FASTag ecosystem is built on a four-party model -- NPCI, Acquirer Bank, Issuer Bank, and Toll Plazas -- and several layers of security are in place to ensure end-to-end safe processing of transactions.
 

Conclusion: The claim that smartwatches with scanners embedded in them can siphon money from FASTag is ‘false’.
 
 
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