Dubai: Have you received a suspicious message, claiming to be from the police, asking you to click on a link or to provide a password sent on your phone? The UAE’s Ministry of Interior has warned users to not respond to such messages and report them immediately to the authorities.
In an awareness message posted on its official social media channels on June 19, the Ministry of Interior said: “The Ministry of Interior warns the public of suspicious messages that may bear the logos of government or police agencies, through which fraudsters try to defraud their victims in the digital world, as these messages delude recipients that they are from a government agency and contain a secret number like a one-time password or suspicious links that are used to trap people and practice electronic fraud. The Ministry calls for immediate reporting of such messages in order to be dealt with, and the Ministry reiterates that messages issued from it are made through official numbers and safe methods of communication.”
How can I report such messages?
The Ministry provided the following options that are available to people to report such fraudulent activities:
• Najeed in Sharjah - Call 800151 or send an SMS to 7999
• The eCrime website – ecrime.ae
• Aman service by Abu Dhabi Police – Call 800 2626
• Dubai Police’s website – dubaipolice.gov.ae
• You can also report cybercrimes to the nearest police station in your area, or call 999 for help.
How do I know that a message is fake?
It can be difficult to avoid responding to a message if you think it is coming from a government agency. In order to educate users on how they can identify whether a message claiming to be from a government authority is in fact fraudulent, the UAE’s Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) provided the following tips:
1. "Your computer's access has been blocked, to unlock it pay Dh6,000."
First of all, you will never be asked by a government website to pay a fine or fee to visit the website or unlock your access.
2. Threatening tone
Online scammers impersonating government accounts or websites have a threatening tone. For example: “If you do not pay the fine, your case will be transferred to Dubai Police Force”, or “you have six hours to pay the fine”. By conveying this message, online scammers intimidate and frighten online users to pay up, and in the process also expose their bank details and private data.
3. Design of the website
Besides deciphering the language used by online scammers, you can also differentiate between a fake and real website through the design and layout. Fraudulent websites use government logos and repeatedly mention the violations through language that sounds official to trick users.