UAE Central Bank warns against 'malicious' WhatsApp messages

The messages tell people their ATM card has been blocked because of a missing update

PBB7HW BANGKOK, THAILAND- 02 July 2018 :Hands of man use Iphone 7 plus with applications of social media. Alamy Stock Photo
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The Central Bank of the UAE on Thursday issued a warning to the public to be wary of fraudulent WhatsApp messages being sent to customers telling them their ATM card has been blocked because it has not been updated.

The regulator, which manages the currency, monetary policy and banking regulations in the UAE, said the messages include a hyperlink that could expose the receiver to a malicious website.

In a statement, the bank said it never uses social media to contact people or businesses. It urged people who received the message to avoid responding.

"The Central Bank of the UAE reminds consumers of the importance of protecting their bank account information and credit/debit cards from fraud and unauthorised use," the regulator said.

The fake message, sent from a mobile number using the Central Bank logo as its profile image, reads: "Dear customers, your ATM card has been blocked, because you did not have an update yet. If you want your ATM card to work properly, then contact us at this number, 0544529893." Along with an Arabic translation and a URL.

Central Bank warns the public to ignore messages such as this one that ask people to call a number to unblock their ATM card. Courtesy UAE Central Bank

The messages are the latest in a string of phone scams to hit the UAE this year.

In October, many residents reported receiving a series of calls from Antarctica, the tiny Pacific island of Nauru and Luxembourg.

Experts warned phone users against returning missed phone calls from overseas numbers they don't recognise as they can risk being charged up to $50 per minute for the call.

Dubbed the Wangiri scam, the scammers have targeted phone users across the globe. Wangiri translates to "one ring and cut" in Japan, where it first began.


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