How to protect yourself from card fraudsters

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How to protect yourself from card fraudsters
Don't fall for any ploys that might lure you to give them your key details, such as your card number, expiry date and the card verification value code.

dubai - One in 10 UAE residents are victim to credit card fraud

By Waleed Barhaji

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Published: Sun 24 Jul 2016, 1:22 PM

Last updated: Sun 24 Jul 2016, 3:25 PM

Over the past decade, the banking sector has transformed rapidly, offering customers improved ways to make convenient and seamless transactions, with less reliance on cash. Despite this shift to other modes of payment, a sizeable number of individuals fall victim to credit card and online banking fraud.

According to the EY Megatrends Report 2015, digital crime and IP theft costs between $375 billion to $575 billion a year globally. The UAE has a well-established banking and payments system, and just like any other financial system it is not insulated from the risk of financial crimes.

Phishing, skimming, data theft and physical manipulation at ATMs are all issues that in some form or another have been seen in the UAE. It is estimated that in the UAE, one in 10 UAE residents are victim to credit card fraud, as cited in a recent survey by the Department of Economic Development and Visa.

A big threat today is the virtual world. As technology and online card usage evolves, cyber-criminals also become increasingly sophisticated. The industry is aware of this threat and constantly invests in ensuring that fraud risk is minimised. Most leading banks have adopted state-of-the-art fraud monitoring systems that allow banks to monitor, analyse and act in real time. Such fraud monitoring tools rely on large amounts of data which include the risk factors associated with a particular type of transaction (such as country where the transaction authorisation originates) and the usage and spend pattern of individual cardholders. While banks, global payment providers and other key stakeholders are working hand-in-hand to ensure these services offer customers greater protection, you can do your bit to avoid these mishaps by acting prudently and exercising some basic precautionary measures.

Paying, banking online securely
Credit card frauds occur after cyber-criminals get your key details, such as your card number, expiry date and the card verification value code. It's therefore vital that you don't fall for any ploys that might lure you to give this information. First and foremost, it is prudent to use your own personal computer when making payments, and ensure it is virus-free with regular anti-virus software checkups. This way, you are not exposing yourself to risk by using a public computer for example - which may have encountered online threats.

When surfing the Web, always check that the address bar has an "https://" in the website address to confirm that the connection is secure. Furthermore, you should always look out for convincing imitations of banks or credit card issuers - a padlock sign on the address bar displays that you are making a payment with a trustworthy source.

Phishing is another widespread scheme used to commit cyber-fraud. This is when fraudsters send e-mails that seems like trustworthy sources, in an attempt to request data related to your identity as well as bank or card details. Therefore, it's important to remember that you should never share such sensitive information over e-mail - or open attachments from unknown senders.

When banking online, different banks usually have different security measures. Some banks offer tokenisation for example, which substitutes a card's primary account number (PAN) with a unique, randomly-generated sequence of numbers, while others may ask for multiple passwords.

Always memorise your passwords and make sure they contain a sequence of both numbers and alphabets to achieve good password strength. Never write them down, or share them with anyone - this can leave you susceptible to fraud.

Using your card
When paying for any bills at a restaurant or retail outlet, you should make a habit to ask for a portable POS machine to be brought to your table, or accompany the waiter to the payment terminal. This precaution guarantees that your card is being used appropriately and that you do not fall prey to any card cloning or skimming.

In the event you do become a victim of credit card fraud, misplace your card, or a theft, you should immediately contact your bank, as you can then reduce the chance that your card will be used improperly. It is then important to change your password, and contact the local authorities (in event of a theft) if necessary.

Verifying your transactions
Last but certainly not least, it very important that you regularly check your bank account and statements. Any suspicious transactions or ones that you do not recognise should instantly be reported to your bank.

One option is to sign up for electronic alerts which message your phone every time a transaction has been made from your card. This way you are always up-to-date, 24 hours, around the clock. At the end of the day, your vigilance and quick action will limit any misuse of your hard-earned money.

The writer is the business head of consumer finance at Noor Bank. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

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