How to Protect Yourself from Online Credit Card and ATM Scams

Person_covering_hand_at_ATMAccording to a statistical report released by the Department of Economic Development, one in ten residents in the UAE have suffered from online credit card fraud. These damaging numbers are indicative of how identity fraud is growing, not just in the Middle East, but across the world and is occurring in the UAE at alarming levels.

Identity fraud is not just isolated to unauthorized use of credit cards, but also by ATM scams, which has all too much become commonplace in different parts of the world. People are losing their valuable money from their debit cards due to the hacking techniques used by ATM scammers.

Although we have reported about these types of scams before, it is important to stay abreast of the latest techniques used by identity scammers, as they look for news ways to use the latest technology to benefit their criminal pockets. By shedding light on these techniques, we can focus on how you can protect yourself from them.

Online Credit Card Fraud

  • In most of the cases (around 60%), the victims of credit card fraud reports that their card details were stolen and used for unauthorized transactions.  

  • The other most prevalent type of fraud is when people are debited for the wrong purchases – purchases which they didn’t make.

  • Some people reported that they were even debited an amount without product delivery.

  • Some people reported that they were conned by fake websites.

Don’t buy from untrustworthy websites, always read the reviews, make sure your personal credit card information is safe and secure at all times.

Conning Techniques at ATM Machines

ATMs machines have become a hotspot for scammers not only in the UAE, but across the world. And they have been using some incredibly innovative ideas to dupe people.

Crash Trapping: A relatively new ATM scam that uses a claw-like cash trapping equipment which is inserted into ATM slots. These devices capture and grab the dispensed notes before they come out of the slot. The cardholder goes home assuming that there is some problem with the machine, while the scammer is waiting in the wings to collect the cash.

Shoulder surfing: It is an effective way to get security information from cardholders withdrawing money from ATM machines that are located in crowded spaces. Scammers just look over the shoulder and observe pin numbers and passwords while the unsuspecting victim is trying to take out money. Avoid shoulder surfing by keeping away anyone who comes near you at an ATM machine. If the person continues to shoulder you, stop and cancel your transaction. Take your debit card and immediately call for help.

Fake keypads: Fake keypads are also being used to obtain pin codes of debits cards. These pin codes are fed directly to the hackers, who then use them to make fraudulent cards and withdraw money. Make sure the keypad on the ATM is the real one by feeling it and looking to see if it is lose in any way.

Skimmer devices: This is probably the most advanced technology that has been used by scammers. A card reader is used for this purpose. It is concealed in the card entry slot and used to obtain the information of any debit cards that are entered into the ATM by reading the magnetic strip on the back. A device that looks exactly like the bank’s card reader is conveniently placed right over the real one and when a customer places his/her card there, it is the criminal card reader that reads the card, as well as the real one. Then a miniature camera takes a video of you entering your pin code on the keypad.

To avoid being scammed this way, first feel the card reader to see if it looks like it was tampered in any way. A loose reader can indicate that it was. Then when you enter your ATM code, cover your hand so that nothing can see what you type.

How to Protect Your Financial Information Online

Online shopping has become a norm and UAE e-commerce industry is estimated to reach the $10 billion mark by 2018. With all its convenience, you are constantly susceptible to online identity theft. When all your sensitive information (account details, passwords and pins) are floating on the web, it becomes easy for scammers to steal your identity and rip you off.

To Guard Your Information Online, Make the Following Practices a Matter of Routine

  • Change login and passwords of your online banking after every few weeks.

  • Make sure that you are using sites for your online endeavors that are encrypted and secure. URLs begin with ‘https://’ and having a padlock sign on the side of the URL bar are safe to surf.

  • Be wary of the phishing mails and pop-ups that are used to get your account or card details.

  • Make sure that you are dealing with authentic and reputable online vendors. You can check their website’s privacy policy and online reviews about their services. If something looks fishy, more often than not, it is!

  • With the advent of smart phones, it is worth taking advantage of the bank’s apps and making check deposits in the privacy of our own home. Then you avoid have to spend time going to the ATM, but what’s even better, you don’t have to put your debit card in a card reader and don’t have to enter a pin code at the bank.

Be Vigilant at ATM machines

  • To protect yourself from shoulder surfing, avoid using ATM machines that are located in crowded spaces. If you have to use one, make sure that your pin number is not visible to any stranger.

  • Most of the skimming devices obscure the flashing indicator of the card entry slot, if you notice this, don’t use the machine.

  • Examine the ATM machine carefully for any hidden camera installed somewhere on the fascia of the machine to obtain your card’s pin number.

  • If the machine doesn’t dispense cash, always make sure you call the relevant authorities to make sure that no transaction has been performed.