You might not be aware, but professional scam artists are always searching for new and improved ways to exploit the latest technology to their advantage. Setting up skimmers at ATMs, sending phishing emails, hacking into computers and the latest outbreak - ransomware are just a few examples of how financial fraud is employed throughout the world, but represents only a small percentage of the many other types of scams that besiege us every day.
Of all the financial resources that fraudsters try to access, credit card fraud takes center stage. Every year, thousands of people around the world fall prey to credit card fraud. And the statistics are climbing. According to the latest data, about 1 in 10 individuals in the country report of a fraudulent credit card transaction. The worst part is that the fraudster’s actions come to light only after they have committed their crime and have subsequently disappeared into the night.
In this article, we will focus on the Middle-East, namely the United Arab Emirates, but the examples here can be perpetrated by criminals mostly anywhere. In the UAE and other Middle-Eastern countries, it is expatriates who consistently fall victim to financial fraud. One case history was Indian expatriate Prashanth Thyagarajan, who said that his wife had received a letter from the bank advising that her credit card number was used to purchase DH 4,500 (US$1,225) worth of goods from a supermarket. It is believed that the fraudsters had gotten hold of their credit card after the couple had booked a hotel and hired a car in the Dubai area. Luckily, this transaction occurred in a famous supermarket chain headquartered in France and the couple was refunded the amount later in the afternoon. But it was an eye opener for them and indicative of the how easily people can fall victim to financial fraud.
Another situation aroused when a man who came to visit with his family used his credit card at the hotel he was staying at and when they got back to their homeland (in this case, the United States), there were three unauthorized transactions totaling over $1200. Although this is only one example, it is representative of the prevailing scams that innocent people are subjected to thousands of times each day around the world.
And then there is Internet fraud. According to Scam Watch, there was over $85,000,000 in fraudulent scams in 2016 via the Internet. Most of these fraudulent activities occurred by email phishing scams, computer spyware and computer hacking.
In most of the credit card fraud cases, the amount is blocked by the financial institutions. But it does not happen all of the time. In several cases, the individuals must part with their hard-earned cash.
How does Credit Fraud Occur in the UAE
The credit card fraud originates when the criminals impersonate a registered company online. An email is sent to the individual asking to provide confidential information such as name, address, national ID number, bank account number, and credit card. The emails may ask the target individual to update the profile at the site or for verification purposes.
Phishing emails are sent to a targeted group of individuals asking them to enter the confidential information for verification purposes. Armed with this information, the cyber criminals commit identity theft and credit card fraud.
A Word of Travel Advice
Individuals traveling within the US or abroad are advised to take special precautions when entering information on any of the local computers or your laptop, tablet or cell one that is connected to Wi-Fi. If you are using a computer connected via Wi-Fi in a public place, do not go into any websites that require personal logins, such as banking sites. Do not purchase any items over the web where you have to put in your credit card or debit card or personal information, such as your birthday or social security number. This applies not just in a hotel or local restaurant or vendor who has Wi-Fi, but at any hot spots, such as airports, train and bus stations to name a few. If you go to an ATM, cover the keypad when you enter your personal ID code to avoid the skimmers.
If you do notice something awry, it is important that you immediately report this activity to the bank an legal authorities immediately. Taking quick action can prevent further abuse of the credit card or bank accounts. And it is essential that you request to cancel the fraudulent transactions and the card it was used on.
You should ask for a refund from the bank even if the cybercriminal has depleted your account and eloped with the stolen goods. Remember that your bank is responsible for the security of the cards. So, you have the right to retrieve your money from the bank and they should have taken the necessary steps to block any further transactions. As long as you report the theft to your card issuer in a timely manner, you will not be held liable for the money lost and your funds will be returned within a week or two.
Note to customers who have business accounts: You don't have the same legal protection as consumers who have personal accounts and you may have a harder time retrieving your money. In this case, getting the assistance from an attorney may help in obtaining the financial compensation for the loss your business suffered.