Google Pay in India is now adding SMS alerts and notifications to help decrease the risk of smartphone owners being scammed out of their money.

Originally Google Pay launched as Google Tez in India back in 2017, which used the Indian governments Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform to help millions of citizens make payments via their mobile devices.

Google Tez exploded to nearly 8 million users within weeks of the service launching. Late last year the service was renamed Google Pay and continues to grow in both usage and popularity within India. The problem with the ease-of-use aspect is that many scammers are now profiting, which has led Google to add new SMS alerts and app notifications to help reduce the risk of being scammed (via XDA-Developers).

Announced via the Google India blog, these new alerts work in tandem with the UPI platform. You are not only able to send money, but you can also send requests to receive payments too. Scammers latched on to this, making promises to pay a stranger, only to send a “collect” request that accidentally or inadvertently gets accepted simply due to bad UI or a mistake by the potential payee.

XDA notes that this seems to have been most prominent on selling sites, where a fake buyer (scammer) would offer to buy a listed item. The scammer would then proceed to call the seller prior to a meetup and insist on paying for the item upfront via the UPI mobile payments platform.

Instead of sending the money, the scammer would send a “collect” request and suggest the seller accept once the “money” has arrived. The seller, therefore, would in some cases accept this request and send their own money rather than receive money from the buyer.

Google has therefore added these new features to help lower the scam risk to users in India by making it much harder for scammers to abuse the UPI system. The new Google Pay app in India now utilizes the Google SafetyNet authentication platform. This stops certain devices from running the app, while a PIN entry prevents any unauthorized access.

If you’re in India and send a collect request, an SMS notification will clarify just who you are paying and where your money is heading to. While this won’t prevent issues from arising altogether or eliminate the risk of scammers, but it does help reduce the risk quite substantially.

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