Resolving Bank Fraud: an Uphill Task in the UAE

Bank fraud is already on the rise in the UAE. According to a survey conducted by the payment system company ACI Worldwide in 2016, more than 25% of the UAE residents have been victim of credit card fraud in the past six years.  

If you have fallen victim to any such fraud in the UAE, then your suffering will not end here because banks and card companies take virtually forever to investigate these cases. Until the investigation is complete, you have to continue picking up the bills that were unauthorized used on your bank or credit card account(s).

Tale of a Recent Victim

Brian Cummins, an expatriate from Ireland who has been teaching in Abu Dhabi for the last seven years has suffered a loss of Dh 7000 ($1906.01 US) from four different fraudulent purchases made on his credit card of an Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank.

The first fraudulent purchase was done when he wasn’t in the UAE. He called an overseas call center of the bank to block the card. Upon his return to UAE, he had to fill in several forms and attach copies of his flight tickets and passport to prove that he was not in the UAE at the time of the fraudulent transaction. Once all this lengthy procedure was done, he was issued a new card and told that the investigation would take four months for completion.

On the completion of the four-month period in August, he contacted the bank for reimbursements of its funds but he was told there was a delay in the investigation, stretching two more months. Just after complaining about the delay in August, three more transactions were made from his account within minutes.

He again contacted the bank to cancel his card. Mr. Cummins had to go on an extensive spree of complaining from different platforms to make his voice heard. He went to two separate branches and had to make various calls to their call center. He even went to Bank’s social media accounts to resolve the issue.

The Bank Shows No Remorse

The head of retail banking of Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank termed this case as an extremely rare and unfortunate case. He said that staff at different retail outlets might have captured the card details. He also pointed that card data might have been compromised on non-secure websites used by Cummins.

In both possibilities mentioned by the head of retail banking, it is quite evident that bank has declared itself clear of any responsibility on their part. Taking half-an-year for investigating a simple fraudulent transaction is itself a criminal negligence from the bank, and they are not quite remorseful about it.

It becomes very difficult for people who come to the UAE to earn a living have to go such ordeals. Even though the money of fraudulent transactions gets reimbursed once the investigations are done. But still waiting for that long and drawn out procedure can be very taxing for the mental health of the victims.

Ambareen Musa, founder of another financial comparison portal warned people on the authority banks possess in all this type of cases. In many cases, bank credit you with the lost money while they are investigating. However, they reserve the right to annul this interim credit if they conclude that the transactions made are not fraudulent.  

The repayment plan of the banks in UAE for the interest charged on fraudulent transactions are also very ambiguous.

There are some other similar cases as well where people became victims of fraud and had to wait for several months to get back their hard-earned money and peace of mind. One wonders if these ‘shady’ tactics are not part of a larger scam associated with the UAE hierarchy.

Protecting Credit Card Details

Fraudsters are not going anywhere and the best practice to protect yourself from such misfortunes in the UAE is protect your credit card details:

  • Keep your receipts for nearly three months to check against your bank statement. Many fraudsters skim a small amount of amount of money so that these transactions go unnoticeable.

  • Receipts in the UAE often mention credit card number in full. Receipts that are not shredded can be used by skimmers to hack into your account. Always shred your receipts and statements before disposing of them.

  • Ways of scamming are also evolving with time and newer technology. Electronic pickpocketing is now being used in credit card frauds where details are retrieved through with the help of a scanner. Using protective sleeves for your cards will help you to avoid such frauds.  

If you are an expatriate, keep these things in mind when performing any transactions in the UAE.