UAE Central Bank warns customers of fraudulent activities amid coronavirus scare

The regulator urged people to avoid responding to unverified calls or messages requesting personal banking information

The UAE Central Bank warned the public to be wary of phone calls and WhatsApp messages purportedly from the regulator. Sammy Dallal / The National
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The UAE Central Bank urged bank customers to be wary of fraudulent phone calls and WhatsApp messages that seek to obtain access to their personal banking details amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank also told the public "to avoid responding to such calls, messages and opening any hyperlink that may be attached, which may provide exposure to a malicious website, and inform authorities immediately".

"Fraudsters always look for opportunities to target consumers and as public is engaged with Covid-19 [coronavirus] pandemic news, fraudsters are using different tactics to increase fraudulent activities on banking customers," the regulator said on Monday.

"We at Central Bank of the UAE confirm that we never ask consumers about private information such as personal and bank account information, and warn consumers to be alert and aware of malicious phone calls and WhatsApp messages claiming to be from CBUAE, which are of a fraudulent nature."

The warning comes as coronavirus cases in the country reached 570 on Monday.

Globally, the number of infected people surpassed 724,000, with more than 34,000 deaths.

More than 152,000 people have recovered, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the spread of the disease.

“The public should be aware that CBUAE never conducts phone calls [unless a consumer complaint has been logged through the right channels with a reference number] or uses social media to contact individuals or businesses.”

"Any suspected fraud phone call should be reported to the respective authorities."

The regulator also said that it is closely working with the concerned authorities to protect customers against fraud.

The UAE Central Bank recently encouraged the use of online and digital services "as a measure to protect the health and safety of UAE residents".

It also directed banks to replenish ATMs with new banknotes to prevent the spread of the virus.

On March 14, it also introduced a Dh100 billion economic stimulus package to offset the negative effects of the coronavirus outbreak by easing the debt concerns of borrowers, boosting the property sector and providing support to small and medium businesses.