The rapid rise of e-commerce in the UAE has exposed more than a million online consumers to shopping scams, according to a report by security experts at Norton.
A 2017 cyber-security insights report revealed UAE shoppers lost more than Dh321 million, with a quarter of victims having their financial details compromised as a result.
E-commerce in the UAE is forecast to be valued at $10 billion (Dh37bn) by 2018, according to analysts at business consultants Frost and Sullivan.
Norton research found 90 per cent of UAE consumers now shop on the go via mobile devices despite 71 per cent of survey respondents admitting the trend was risky.
“The UAE has one of the highest internet and mobile penetration rates in the world, fueling the growth of the e-commerce industry,” said Tamim Taufiq, head of Norton Middle East.
“There are a number of perks for consumers, from booking dinner reservations and buying concert tickets to finding the perfect gifts online.
“But along with the perks, numerous threats lurk online.”
In the UAE, ‘digital first’ millennials were the most affected by cybercrimes related to online shopping, and were guilty of making similar mistakes like using the same password across multiple accounts.
They are also the most likely demographic to share their password with others, while one in five millennials also admit to not having any protective measures in place for at least one of their devices.
UAE consumers lost more than two working days (18 hours) on average in dealing with credit or debit card fraud.
An average of one working day, or eight hours, was lost trying to resolve or recover from an incident when payment information had been stolen from a mobile phone.
The Norton report also found consumers spent an average of 22.4 hours dealing with the consequences of financial information that was compromised while shopping online.
“From e-commerce and online auction fraud, fake websites to bogus ticket offers, consumers may not always be able to easily spot dubious websites and offers,” said Mr Taufiq.
“By following a few easy steps, however consumers can avoid falling victim to such scams.”
Earlier this year, following a similar report that found Dh4 billion a year was being raided from UAE consumers by cybercriminals, security experts said it was a global concern.
A cybercrime is defined as, but is not limited to, a number of specific actions, including identity theft, credit card fraud or having your account password compromised.
Matthew Cochran, chairman of the Defence Services Marketing Council, a company working with international industries of defence, space and security advised online shoppers to take steps to protect themselves.
“Don’t use the same online password across your accounts, or save them on a computer's browser," he said.