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Scammers use different tricks to part you from your money, but by staying alert, you can easily protect yourself


Many of us are spending more time online as our lives have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But hackers, fraudsters and other cyber criminals have also ramped up their digital activity.

Online fraud in the UAE has risen considerably in recent months, even as misinformation abounds about coronavirus-linked health and financial issues. Crime for financial gain has been among the most significant. The Central Bank of the UAE has issued several warnings this year about an upsurge in financial fraud, and others such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai Police have cautioned residents to stay alert and protect themselves against the rising number of scams.

This article explains some common frauds in the UAE and offers possible routes of action.

Phishing: These are emails designed to get you to act urgently. They may feature a bank logo and may concern frozen bank accounts, transaction errors or lottery wins. You will be asked to call a mobile number immediately (or click on a link) to submit account and personal details for "verification purposes."

SMS Phishing: In the text message version of email phishing, you may receive an SMS that appears genuine; this is because scammers can use text-spoofing software to falsify the telephone number.

Vishing: You receive a phone call from swindlers posing as bank, government, or police officials. You may be asked to transfer money for an outstanding bill, reveal personal information, or threatened with disruption of services.

WhatsApp lottery fraud: An image received via WhatsApp that appears to come from a large UAE retailer informing you about winning a big cash prize. You are asked to share your personal finance details to claim the award.

SIM swap: Fraudsters duplicate your SIM card, usually by impersonating you on a call to your phone provider. They then divert incoming messages and conduct financial transactions with the bank.

Identity theft: When scammers obtain your confidential information by stealing your wallet, or bank or utility bill statements, or hack into your social network accounts.

Magic ink: When someone impersonating bank staff offers you credit cards or personal finance. You're then asked to fill in a security check in favor of the bank using a pen containing magic ink, but they switch pens before you sign the check. When the paper is heated, the magic ink disappears and the scammer can use the signed blank check as he pleases.

How to deal with fraud in the UAE

  1. In cases of financial fraud, should call your bank at the registered number on its website instead of responding to an email or text message. If it's a phone call, hang up and call your bank.
  2. For other types of fraud, such as lotteries or fund transfers, carefully examine the email address or URL for inconsistencies – are there double letters? Is it a free email service? If so, mark the email as spam. If not, check the organization's website or call its registered helpline.
  3. If you receive a phone call, check the number. Be suspicious of unknown or mobile numbers. Never answer personal questions about your bank account, mother's maiden name, and so on.
  4. In case of identity theft, go straight to the police.
  5. When interacting with anyone claiming to be a bank official, ask to see official ID. Don't use anyone else's pen, and don't allow other people to fill out checks on your behalf.
  6. Always remember, your bank will never ask you for your Password , OTP and PIN
  7. Consult ADIB's Fraud Security tips.