Even before the ambitious Ayushman Bharat Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) or Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojna was launched, several websites had surfaced which were spreading misinformation about the scheme and luring unsuspecting users to give their personal data. The scheme aims to provide insurance coverage to 40% of the Indian population for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation, based on the deprivation criteria as per the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011. The National Health Agency (NHA) is the body which is implementing the AB-NHPM.
On November 14, Dr Indu Bhushan, CEO National Health Agency tweeted, “Escalating our cyber security drive against fraudulent web platforms, we’ve found out 89 fake websites n mobile apps spreading misleading info on
# AyushmanBharat; earlier reported 77 to MEITY out of which 59 mob. apps n 8 websites have been closed. ”
Escalating our cyber security drive against fraudulent web platforms, we've found out 89 fake websites n mobile apps spreading misleading info on #AyushmanBharat; earlier reported 77 to MEITY out of which 59 mob. apps n 8 websites have been closed. @PMOIndia @JPNadda @PIB_India
— Dr. Indu Bhushan (@ibhushan) November 14, 2018
According to an Indian Express report, Dr Bhushan said that an FIR has been lodged against the owners/developers of these websites.
Fake websites and WhatsApp forwards
The different kinds of misinformation include false claims for getting beneficiary cards, fake vacancies for hiring Ayushman Mitras, charges for registering under the scheme. The fake websites are made to seem genuine by using photos of PM Modi and using similar domain names as the real websites. They also use terms like ‘Modicare’ and use the National Emblem and the National Flag to appear genuine.
As per an India Today report, few such fake websites are pradhanmantriyojana.in, pradhanmantriagreement.in, and ayushmanbharatyojana.co.in. Some of these websites are listing fake toll-free numbers as well.
Also, Quint reported that fake WhatsApp messages are also being sent asking users to give their details in order to apply for the scheme. The messages are also asking users to share the message with their friends. These messages and websites try to get users’ personal information such as name, age, phone number etc and they also try to get money out of them. Capitalising on the lack of awareness among the masses especially about data privacy, these fraud websites lure users and then sell their data without their consent.
Please be cautious
The official website for the Ayushman Bharat Health Protection Mission (AB-NHPM) is https://www.abnhpm.gov.in/ and the toll-free number is 1455.
The Logical Indian urges everyone to be cautious on the internet, especially before sharing personal information. These fake websites harvest your data and might sell it to third-party entities which can misutilise it and also steal your identity. There will only be one government website for the scheme and verify the numbers there before calling or when you receive a call.