'I received a suspicious WhatsApp message. What should I do?'

The best course of action to protect your identity and accounts is to ignore phishing messages and block the number

FILE PHOTO: The WhatsApp messaging application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo
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I recently received a WhatsApp message from an unknown mobile number and the message said: "I am sorry, I sent you a six-digit code through text message by error. Can you transfer it to me? It is urgent." I was a bit suspicious and did not do it. Was that the right thing? Is this fraud or someone's error? BM, Dubai

I have received several inquiries about this exact message. This is a phishing message – a type of fraud – that is being sent from various mobile numbers in large numbers. BM did the right thing by ignoring and blocking the number.

If someone replies and sends back a code they receive by text message, they will probably find various accounts and phone contacts are then hacked.

As the action is deemed voluntary, the person will be held liable and will have no recourse to recover any losses.

Currently, there are large numbers of phishing messages being sent and while some may look potentially legitimate, everyone needs to be wary and assume that the messages, whether sent via WhatsApp or text message, are fraudulent. The same applies to telephone calls, even if the caller claims to be from a known company. You should never pass on any personal information.

These fraudsters should be ignored and the numbers blocked. They can also be reported to the authorities in each emirate, although there are varying procedures. Reports should go via the police on the non-emergency number, 901, and in Dubai, there is an option to report fraudsters via the Dubai Police e-crime portal.

Our employer has not paid our salaries for more than four months. Am I allowed to change the company I work for, seeing that they have not paid me for so long? I have been in the job for six months – three months on a visit visa and three months on a residence or employment visa. MNK, Sharjah

It is not acceptable for employers to fail to pay their staff for any period of time and it is in breach of UAE Labour Law. Article 121 states: “The worker may leave work without notice in the following cases: a. Should the employer breach his obligations towards the worker, as set forth in the contract or the law ...”

This means that MNK may leave the service of his employer without any kind of ban or penalty, provided he files a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. This can be done by contacting the ministry directly on 800 60 or via a Tasheel service centre, formerly known as a labour office.

It is not acceptable for employers to fail to pay their staff for any period of time and it is in breach of the UAE Labour Law

MNK needs to ask the ministry to cancel his employment visa, which will then enable him to start working for another company that will provide a new visa, work permit and identity card.

I note that MNK also said that he was working for his current employer while on a visit visa. This is against the law and the employer should be aware of this fact. An employer can be fined for not organising a visa as soon as an employee starts work. Failure to do this can lead to issues with future visa requests, as can any case that is made against them.

An employee can also be fined for working without a proper visa but the main responsibility lies with the employer as they are expected to know and follow the laws of the UAE.

My wife and I divorced through the Dubai Courts last year but we have since been told that this may not hold up in the UK. We are both British. Is this correct and if so, what can we do so that the divorce is legal and recognised in the UK? We did not use a lawyer as it was amicable. FE, Dubai

This is a specialist legal issue so I referred it to Madeleine Mendy, head of family law at Bin Sevan Advocates in Dubai. Ms Mendy said: “There are two types of divorces issued at the Dubai Court. Irrevocable and revocable divorces. If you have obtained a revocable divorce through the counsellor, you will need to wait for the three-month waiting period to lapse and return to the court to request a certificate confirming that the divorce is final. The irrevocable divorce requires you to wait for the standard 30-day appeal period, when you can return to the court and ask for a certificate also confirming that the divorce is final.”

“Once you obtain this, you must take your divorce certificate and the certificate confirming that the divorce is final to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have them attested. Once this process is completed, the divorce is recognised in England and anywhere else in the world.”

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only