Explainer: How to avoid phone and email scams

Police in Abu Dhabi offer advice to stay safe online and on the phone

Abu Dhabi Police has provided advice on how to avoid falling victim to telephone and email scams. The National
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Phishing phone-calls and emails from conmen looking to hoodwink cash out of unsuspecting victims may be on the rise, but police are urging the public to fight back.

Abu Dhabi Police has recently screened public awareness messages in Arabic, English, Urdu and Malayalam at cinemas, warning of telephone and electronic hoaxes promoting the award of fake prizes.

The campaign aims to help tackle fraud, explaining what the latest tricks are and how people can protect themselves from becoming a victim by taking a few simple precautions.

What are the latest scams to be wary of?

Bank fraud is evolving all the time. Hoax emails and phone-calls are luring people into parting with their hard-earned money by promising either fake investment opportunities, bogus prizes or posing as an official to glean bank details.

Phishing is an unsolicited email, made to look like it has come from a bank or online store.

Hoax emails request sensitive information or direct those opening an email towards a link directing users to a fake site.

Malicious software, or malware, harmful to a computer is often installed.

This can be a virus or spyware designed to collect more information which could lead to further fraud.

Similar scams are delivered via text messages in what has become known as ‘smishing’.

Etisalat and Du customers continue to report incidents of fake phone calls, with phone operators claiming to be from banks in an effort to gather sensitive banking details.

Banks will never call asking for information like passwords or pin numbers, and you cannot win a competition you have not entered.

What can criminals do with your information?

Illegally obtained information can be collected from the theft of bank statements, passport and visa numbers, Emirates ID, tax returns or loan agreement documents.

Computer hackers can access social media accounts and emails to search for information that could be used to help pose as a bank customer and illegally withdraw funds from an account.

Pretexting is when criminals already in possession of limited information, use this to bait users to hand over other sensitive details that could be used for fraudulent transactions.

Banks are constantly updating advice to account holders, making them aware of the latest scams in circulation and how to stay safe online and on the phone.

Most UAE banks send all transaction details via SMS or email, allowing consumers to keep a close eye on financial transactions.

What should you do if you suspect you have been scammed?

Call your bank as soon as possible to put a temporary freeze on any bank cards, or request new ones if there has been an unauthorised transaction.

Use credit cards where possible as most will have fraud insurance to cover the costs of any scams.

Regularly check account statements for any unusual activity, no matter how small the amount may be, as this could be a test by criminals to see if they can access an account.

Larger transactions usually follow if unauthorised transactions go unreported.

Abu Dhabi Police has stressed the importance of public awareness on the latest methods of fraud and how it can be detected.

“Deceptive messages will often contain content with telephone numbers attached to them and bank account numbers for depositing funds,” said Colonel Dr Hamoud Saeed Al-Afari, director of community policing.

“There are various forms of e-fraud, most notably fake prizes with criminals asking to be sent money before people can receive them.

“Also, attempts are made to persuade victims to donate for humanitarian causes.

“We advise not to respond to any suspicious calls or reply to deceptive messages.”

To report suspicious activity, contact the security service on 8002626 or send a text message on 2828.