News, Retail, Security

Over 1M UAE consumers fell victim to online shopping scams

With the rise in popularity of e-commerce in the region, consumers in the UAE also face a variety of risks including online shopping scams, credit and debit card fraud and breach of their payment information. More than 1 million UAE consumers were victims of online shopping scams alone in 2017, losing a total of AED 321 million according to the 2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, released by Norton by Symantec.

Last year, nearly one-third of cybercrime victims in the UAE fell for such scams, losing an average of 47.2 hours to resolve the issue.  Furthermore, amongst those who have ever experienced a type of cybercrime, more than one in four (22 percent) had their financial details compromised as a result of shopping online, 28 per cent experience credit or debit card fraud and 43 percent were notified their personal or financial information was compromised in a data breach last year.

E-commerce in the UAE is expected to be valued at $10 billion by 2018, according to Frost and Sullivan. It is a popular, fast, simple, and sometimes more affordable alternative for buying goods; in fact, nine out of 10 UAE consumers shop on-the-go on from their mobile devices according to Norton’s research. This is despite the fact that 71 percent of the respondents in the country feel shopping from a mobile device is risky.

“The UAE has one of the highest internet and mobile penetration rates in the world, fueling the growth of the e-commerce industry. 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. 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. By following a few easy steps, however consumers can avoid falling victim to such scams,” said Tamim Taufiq, Head of Norton Middle East.

In addition, UAE consumers have reported the following financial losses in the past year:

  • Payment information stolen from their phone– AED 359
  • Credit/Debit card fraud – AED 3859
  • Financial information compromised due to shopping online – AED 381

UAE consumers lost more than two working days (18 hours) on average in dealing with credit or debit card fraud, while an average of one working day (eight hours) was lost trying to resolve or recover from an incident wherein their payment information was stolen from the phone. Consumers also spent an average of 22.4 hours (or nearly one working week) dealing with the consequences of financial information that was compromised while shopping online.

In the UAE, millennials were the most affected by cybercrimes related to online shopping. While millennials are known for being a “digital-first” generation and rather tech savvy, they also make similar mistakes such as using the same password across accounts and sharing their password with others.  One in five millennials also admit to not having any protective measures in place for at least one of their devices.

To learn more about the real impact of cybercrime and how consumers can protect their digital information, go here for more information.

Tips to protect consumers when shopping online:

  • Only shop with reputable online merchants, ensure the URL is accurate, and check to make sure the website includes “https” when entering payment information
  • Do not click on links from emails purporting to come from vendors. Instead, manually type the vendor’s main URL in your browser
  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Research a website you have never heard of before making a purchase
  • Read a websites policies on privacy and security and be mindful of cookies
  • Don’t store account log-in details, passwords or account numbers on your mobile device.
  • If you’re recycling your phone or passing it on to someone, make sure you “wipe” or conduct a factory reset of your device first.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for your e-commerce account logins. If you need help creating a unique and secure password, try Norton’s free Password Generator. Do not disclose your mobile banking password and PIN to anyone.
  • Never send your financial information by unencrypted email.
  • Don’t carry out sensitive and financial transactions using public Wi-Fi or unknown networks. The open nature of public networks makes them vulnerable, so make ensure use a secure connection when making any financial transaction.


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