Have you been a victim of fraud? Here’s how to protect yourself

With banking becoming increasingly digital, it can be scary when something happens to your savings. So what can you do to safeguard yourself from danger?

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You wake up in the morning and you have a text message from your bank telling you that thousands of dirhams have been spent from your account in the middle of the night.

The transactions have been approved, the money is gone and while you were dreaming, you’ve woken up to a nightmare and you have no idea what to do next or if you’ll ever get that money back.

This exact scenario could happen to anyone, at any time. So what should you do if you find yourself the victim of fraud?

Don’t panic, act fast

“The first step is to contact your bank to put a stop on the card and prevent any further use,” explains Keren Bobker, independent financial adviser and senior partner at Holborn Assets.

“It is very important to take prompt action so there are no further transactions and as there is usually a limited window for reporting to get your money back.”

Most banks in the UAE are smart when it comes to catching fraudulent transactions and will place suspicious transactions on hold, or block them entirely, but it isn’t always possible to stop them from going through.

Once you’ve made the complaint, it’s over to the bank to do their job but the bad news is, until there is a resolution, you will be responsible for covering the charges and can find yourself significantly out of pocket.

“Be aware that it can take quite some time to investigate,” adds Keren. “While you have a good chance of getting your money back if you are quick, and haven’t broken the account rules by giving someone else your pin, you may not see the money back in your account for up to 60 days.” 

With such a small window for taking action, it’s increasingly important to keep on top of your finances, and monitor your incomings and outgoings so that you can spot any irregularities, Keren stresses: “Quite simply, if you don’t keep an eye on what you are spending, not only will you waste your hard-earned money, you won’t know if you have been the victim of bank fraud.”

Keep yourself safe

Ask yourself this: How often have you handed your bank card over to a complete stranger with blind trust for them to carry out a transaction?

Remember that time at the petrol station, a restaurant or a shop? It would have been easy for anyone to take note of your card details, or even snap a picture of the card without you noticing. It’s a scary thought.

“It’s common sense but as the UAE is generally very safe, people are often too trusting,” Keren explains.

“I have seen people hand over cards without hesitation, even giving servers and petrol pump attendants their pin code.

“You should never let your card out of your sight or tell anyone else your pin; in addition, your bank will never call you and ask for it either.”

When it comes to your finances you can never be too careful and should never let your bank card out of your sight or even your hands.

It’s your responsibility to take precautions and safeguard personal information to protect yourself from fraud.

“While I am sure most people are trustworthy, not everyone is and if you give out personal banking information you are at risk, and you will be deemed to be at fault if your details are used fraudulently.”

WORDS Colin Armstrong

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