UAE Banks Federation (UBF), the Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE), Abu Dhabi Police, and Dubai Police have announced the launch of the UAE’s first national fraud awareness campaign.
The joint initiative aims to educate and protect consumers from financial cybercrime and fraud, particularly in light of the increased use of digital banking services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As digital solutions disrupt the banking industry, fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated resulting in a surge in the number of cases of fraud worldwide. Unfortunately, the UAE is no exception to this trend. In 2018, there was a year-on-year increase of 18.2 percent in fraud cases. These numbers increased again in 2019.
Globally, fraud and cybercrime are expected to rise further. And with hundreds of millions of people mandated to stay at home to curb the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19 related fraud is also expected to climb as fraudsters exploit people’s fear and anxiety during these difficult times.
Common scams are targeting victims via email, SMS, phone and social media, with fraudsters posing as genuine organisations including government entities, banks, and healthcare providers to trick victims into disclosing personal or financial information. In the UAE, the CBUAE has urged the public to be wary of potential fraudulent activities using its name, and warns that there will be a rise in these types of scams during the coronavirus outbreak.
To counter this, and encourage people to remain vigilant while they stay at home, the national fraud awareness campaign will be rolled out across social and traditional media channels with the support of the UBF Fraud Prevention Committee and UBF’s 53 member banks. Under the theme #TogetherAgainstFraud, content will include educational videos and articles that will raise awareness on how to identify scams and avoid them.
And as part of the campaign’s efforts to help banks and authorities spot trends and further combat fraud, UBF has launched a micro-website where customers can report fraudulent activity.
Abdulhamid Saeed, Governor, Central Bank of the UAE, said, “The Central Bank of the UAE is delighted to collaborate with the UAE Banks Federation, Abu Dhabi Police and Dubai Police on this crucial initiative. As a nation, we continue our fight against COVID-19 and that includes combating fraud and cyber security risks in the banking and financial system. As digital banking transactions are witnessing a significant spike during this time, we at Central Bank of the UAE have been quick to deploy robust fraud prevention measures to protect consumers. Today’s announcement further validates this commitment. The newly launched fraud awareness campaign, underscored by a series of interactive and educational materials, is aimed at informing consumers about the proliferation of phishing activities while enabling them to stay alert. We continue to advise consumers to be aware of malicious activities and schemes while practicing caution when sensitive and personal information is requested.”
Commenting on the campaign, AbdulAziz Al Ghurair, Chairman, UAE Banks Federation, highlighted that the banking sector’s digital transformation and widespread implementation of online solutions has increased both the complexity and magnitude of financial fraud and cybercrime across the globe.
“This is a serious threat to society that must be addressed, particularly under these challenging circumstances where fraudsters are taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 outbreak. With the launch of this joint campaign we not only aim to equip the public with the knowledge and resources they need to protect themselves from fraud, but also disrupt the criminal networks that are targeting UAE residents. This can only be achieved if we work together, and on behalf of UBF I would like to thank the Central Bank of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Police, Dubai Police and our member banks for their continued support and collaboration. By better preparing banks and customers for the future, we are securing a better future for the entire nation,” he said.
The national fraud awareness campaign will run until the end of the year, focusing on different topics every month. These include SIM swap fraud, phishing, vishing, lottery scams, vanishing ink scams, card skimming, email redirection fraud, and data privacy.
Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Lieutenant General of Dubai Police, encouraged UAE residents to remain vigilant during these uncertain times, and exercise extra caution when sharing any confidential information. These include account numbers, bank card numbers, passwords, personal identification codes and security codes behind cards, with the need not to be deceived by fraudulent phone calls and messages that may target customers via SMS or social media.
“This initiative underpins our will and readiness to tackle fraud and cybercrime, and strengthen our collaborative efforts alongside our partners to combat this threat to society,” he said.
Major General Maktoum Ali Al Sharifi, Director-General of Abu Dhabi Police, said, “The fight against fraud can only be won if we work together. This partnership is a major step forward in this fight, and I am confident that through this #TogetherAgainstFraud campaign, we can significantly reduce the number of fraud cases across the country.”
To access the first official page in the UAE for UAE bank customers to report bank fraud, please visit: https://www.uaebf.ae/en/fight-fraud.html