Hit by bank fraud in the UAE? Here’s what to do next

As we spend more time online on more platforms than ever before, scammers have found new ways to con us into parting with our money. This article explains what steps UAE residents can take if they are victims of bank fraud.

Emails about inheritances from princes and handouts from international organizations are history. New scams being reported in the UAE take several different forms. Email-based cons, referred to as phishing, remain a major concern, with genuine-looking emails asking for bank account numbers and access codes for a number of possible reasons. Alternatively, they may request confidential identity details or declare you as the winner of one of the many raffles run by UAE-based organizations. Similarly, residents may be telephoned by swindlers pretending to be bank officials and asked to divulge personal details. A different kind of fraud involves SMS or WhatsApp messages, where scammers purport to alert residents to frozen bank accounts or similar crises.

As an indication of advances in bank fraud in the UAE, many of these communications increasingly appear genuine. They may even feature banks’ logos or link to official-looking websites. UAE residents must therefore stay more alert than ever, making sure they only use personal devices and trusted websites, and avoiding clicking on any links. Find here a number of useful tips to avoid succumbing to financial fraud.

What to do if you’re a victim of bank fraud

Nevertheless, the all-pervasive nature and increasing frequency of bank fraud in the UAE means that anyone could be a victim at any time. Consequently, given its role as a financial hub, the UAE has several pre-established processes to protect bank account holders and investors. The following 5 steps explain how you can respond to bank fraud. In some cases, you may even get any stolen money back.

  • Alert your bank: Whether you have transferred money to a scammer, revealed confidential personal details or noticed a suspicious transaction on your account statement, call your bank right away. There is usually a limit time to fraud reporting, but this may vary from bank to bank in the UAE. Bank officials will be able to advise you on any steps you may need to take. This may include blocking your payment cards and requesting new ones, as well as filling out forms or escalating the matter further to law enforcement authorities.
  • Change your bank passwords. If hackers or scammers have gained access to your account details, they may try to swindle you again. Therefore, it makes sense to change your access details across all devices – including desktop, mobile, soft token passwords, and any telephone identification numbers. Remember to choose a secure password that is at least eight characters long and includes a combination of small and capital letters, numbers, and special symbols in a random combination. Don’t use birthdays or other special dates as numerical codes as these are easy to guess if hackers have even partial access to your personal details.
  • Fill out the transaction dispute form. Banks typically require you to explain what happened in a specific format. You might be asked to send in a signed transaction dispute form that describes the fraud in detail within a few days’ time. Before doing so, however, speak to a bank official – via the telephone helpline or in person at a service center – and find out if there are any other documents required. Ask how long the process takes – depending on the nature of the fraud, it could take 90 business days or longer.
  • File a police report. Your bank may ask you to fill out a police report if it’s a serious crime or there is a large amount of money involved. In Dubai, you can do so via the Dubai Police app. Within Dubai city, you can also register a complaint at ecrime.ae. Alternatively, call the police helpline in your emirate or visit the nearest police station that deals with financial fraud (this may be limited to a certain posts locations). Share whatever details you can with the police, including where, when, and how the crime occurred. The police also ask for documents that will help your case, such as receipts, confirmation emails, or text messages related to the fraudulent transaction.
  • Escalate the issue to the Central Bank. If the issue hasn’t been resolved to your satisfaction, you can report the matter to the Central Bank of the UAE, which oversees all banking operations in the country. To file a complaint, call the 800 CBUAE (800 22823) helpline or log on to https://crm.centralbank.ae/en?lang=en. More information on dealing with bank fraud is available on the bank’s website.
  • As scammers use increasingly sophisticated routes to con unsuspecting UAE residents, it is important to stay informed about the different kinds of fraud in the country and to understand what you can do about such an event.

    Share this article with your friends and family to help raise awareness of bank fraud in the UAE.

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    Keith J Fernandez is an editor and communications professional who advises on marketing content strategy. He is based between the UAE, the Netherlands and India and writes about business, technology and personal finance.

    This article is intended to provide general information about finance and investments and does not replace or should be taken as professional financial advice. The content reflects the view of the author of the article and does not necessarily reflect the views of Citi or its employees, and we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in the article except information on Citibank N.A. – UAE products referenced herein.
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