Dial 401. The silent call forwarding scam in India

Cyber-scammers are evolving and finding new ways to trick their victims. 

A stranger calls you impersonating a telecom agent, a bank official, or even a courier delivery person, telling you there’s a problem with your service or they can’t find your address. Later, they ask you to dial a particular number from your phone, starting with 401. The caller may use tactics such as urgency, fear, or guilt to make you dial the number.

Dialing it will enable call-forwarding on your SIM. Any calls to your phone will now be forwarded to the number following the 401 you dialed. This will enable them to access your phone calls and OTPs.

Why are call-forwarding scams more dangerous than you think?

  • Victims stay in the dark, unaware of their calls or OTPs being redirected.
  • Most financial and other banking services in India are linked to your mobile number. So giving them access to your calls and SMS gives them access to almost everything above.

Possibility of how the scam could unfold:

Lock you out of your bank accounts: They’ll request a password change with OTP and could lock you out of your banking application.

Lock you out of your email service: They could change your email password with the OTP. They could even add an extra 2FA to block you out completely.

Lock you out of social communication channels: They get access to WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media accounts connected with your email and mobile number.

Protect yourself from call forwarding scam.

How to check if call forwarding is activated on your number?

  • Dial *#62# or *#21#.
  • It will display whether call forwarding is activated on your number.

How to disable call forwarding?

  • To disable it, dial ##62# or ##21*10#.
  • Check for unusual apps that you haven’t installed that do auto-call forwarding.

Protecting yourself online is important. So stay vigilant. If anyone encourages you to dial *401*, remember it activates call-forwarding, and report it to the cyber police.

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