It is not something one would expect in a formal press interaction after the Reserve Bank of India has just announced its monetary policy for the upcoming months. But, Raghuram Rajan likes to surprise.
On Tuesday, the RBI kept the policy rates unchanged keeping in mind the recent spike in inflation which threaten to derail a long-fought stability in prices for the consumer.
But, amid these announcements the outgoing governor found time to make an important albeit light-hearted comment that he is not sending any email to any individual offering a large sum of money from the RBI. Cautioning people against falling for such scams, Rajan offered an elaborate explanation why the RBI doesn’t dole out money to individuals and it will be better if people just delete these emails.
The problem of email scams is neither new nor unique to India but the frequency of these emails coming under the name of the RBI governor seems to have increased. The senders of these emails have been using Raghuram Rajan’s name to defraud unsuspecting citizens claiming that they have won some sort of lottery.
The emails add that people need to transfer a token sum to a bank account to claim their prize and even add that only the rightful owner should respond and keep the whole thing secret.
The RBI has been warning citizens against falling for these scams over and over. “The Reserve Bank has urged the public to remain alert and not to fall prey to frauds or scams perpetrated by individuals who impersonate to be employees of the Reserve Bank of India,” the bank said in an advisory in 2012. “While the names of the officials might be correct but their signatures are fake. The offer document would contain contact details of a so-called RBI officer working in some department in the Reserve Bank/public authorities.”
On Tuesday, Rajan took the opportunity to reiterate this advisory and asked people to stay vigilant about such scams.
“If you get an email from me or any future governor promising to transfer a large sum, say Rs 50 lakhs, to you if only you transfer a transaction fee, say, Rs 20000 to a bank account – delete the email immediately. The reality is that such emails are not from me and the RBI doesn’t give out money directly to ordinary citizens even though we print plenty of it.”
Rajan characteristically added a bit of logic to the debate.
“While the emails usually contain very convincing reasons why you have been chosen to receive the money, ask yourself why I simply cannot deduct Rs 20000 and send you Rs 49.8 lakhs. If you think for a moment, you should not fall prey to such emails.”
Rajan said that the RBI is kicking off an year-long campaign to educate people about their rights and prevent such scams from recurring since the central bank doesn’t pay any individual any sum of money directly.
However, it is not as if RBI doesn’t pay the citizens indirectly. Each year, the bank transfers a large part of its profits to the government which is a strong revenue source for the Union Government. Last year, the central bank transferred a hefty sum of Rs 65,896 crore to the government and this year the amount is expected to further increase due to RBI’s profitable investments.
Rajan is set to retire next month. "This is my last policy statement," he said. "But there are still 28 days in my term which I intend to use fully."