UAE: Are you among the 90% who are ‘at risk of getting scammed’?

Fifty-four per cent of residents have fallen into fraudsters' traps at least once, with some getting duped multiple times

by

Waheed Abbas

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AFP file photo
AFP file photo

Published: Thu 7 Dec 2023, 3:52 PM

Last updated: Mon 11 Dec 2023, 2:30 PM

More than half of UAE residents had been a victim of online and phone scam at least once — and 17 per cent were tricked multiple times, said a new study released on Thursday.

Visa’s annual Stay Secure study further warned that nine in 10 consumers are at risk of responding to scammers and getting duped due to overconfidence. Yet, 61 per cent of UAE shoppers claim to be scam-savvy.

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“In today’s digital-first world, scams are evolving in sophistication with criminals using new approaches to trick unsuspecting consumers. Whether it’s a parcel held up at customs, a streaming subscription claiming to have expired, or a free voucher for a favourite brand, scammers are adopting extremely persuasive tactics to deceive their victims,” said Neil Fernandes, Visa's head of risk for Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

“With the rapid growth in digital payments, it is essential now more than ever that consumers in the UAE understand the language of fraud and act with a high level of caution,” he said.

Scammers try different approaches to craft messages that appear genuine and compel recipients to take immediate action.

The authorities, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions have repeatedly issued alerts, urging residents to be wary of scammers and refrain from sharing personal and financial details with strangers.

Residents are also advised to shop online through popular platforms to avoid scams. Khaleej Times has reported numerous cases of shoppers falling into fraudsters' traps as they failed to ensure the platform's authenticity.

Here are some simple but effective practices to protect yourself against cyber frauds:

  • Keep personal account information to yourself.
  • Don’t click on links before verifying that they’ll take you where they say they will.
  • Regularly check purchase alerts, which provide near real-time notification by text message or e-mail of purchases made with your account.
  • Call the number on corporate websites or the back of your credit and debit cards if you are unsure whether a communication is valid.

Costly confidence

Conducted by Wakefield Research in countries across Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the study found that UAE consumers who consider themselves more knowledgeable are more likely to respond to a requested action from scammers compared to those who say they are less knowledgeable.

The survey revealed that over half – 51 per cent –are concerned that their friends or families will fall for a scam e-mail offering a free gift card or product from an online shopping site. While one-third – 33 per cent — are concerned about children or minors, as well as retired people falling prey to online scams.

The Visa survey found that only 60 per cent reported looking to ensure a communication is sent from a valid email address, while 51 per cent will check if the company name or logo was attached to the message.

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