It starts like this - you get an alert from the bank that a transaction was made, but you know nothing of it. Sam Varghese, a 45 year old learned this the hard way when he found out that his credit card was used multiple times and he had been charged DH 4000 ($1,089) in just two days. The scammers always start with a small transaction, in order to test the waters and then check if the credit card details are correct as told by the victim, then they make the big purchases.
Varghese said he first got a message from the bank, but he didn’t give it much importance since it was a small amount. After two days, he got notified that he spent DH 4000 in a store in South Korea. Varghese then asked the bank to block his card.
Thousands of people fall prey to credit card scammers in the UAE every year and people only realize it when huge amounts of money has been charged to their accounts. A family based in the UAE also faced a similar situation. In July 2016, Prashant Thyagerajan was vacationing in Europe when his wife got a text from the bank, saying that her credit card had been used. The amount was dh 4500, which was spent at a supermarket. He said he had used his wife’s credit card to book hotels and a car through a renowned website. Little did they know the website was a fraud, collecting credit card data from thousands of people. They learned their lesson and said they will never make online purchases from unsecure websites again. It took about six weeks to have the bank refund the entire amount spent by the fraudster.
Threats on the rise
Identity thefts are on the rise and the tactics are evolving, using social engineering tricks. Crooks are getting smarter by knowing how to deceive others. The criminals create legitimate looking fake websites of their companies, so that naïve people would use them to do business and make transactions. They target their personal information and find out important details, like credit card numbers, dates of birth, national ID numbers and addresses, etc. This is the data neccessary for a crook to steal somebody’s identity.
But What Persuades People to Go to These Fraudulent Sites?
It is called Phishing Emails, where the fraudster contacts you via email and convinces you to click a link. Once you click the link, they got you. Never trust emails from people claiming to have lots of money, asking your bank account number to store their money in your account.
These crimes are getting common in UAE, especially Dubai, where people come to spend their money on shopping and other luxury activities. There are tourists from all over the world and this includes the undesirables, such as scammers. It is recommended to keep your credit cards safe and not use them in places where the situation appears to be shady or untrustworthy.
Noor Bank’s Business Head in Consumer Finance, Waleed Barhaji says that the new chip and PIN technology, as well as advancements with the EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) has been introduced in the UAE, which makes it difficult for fraudsters to get hold of your data. Credit card theft is getting common these days and UAE is not immune to it.