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Youngsters who grew up with technology are used to this. However, scammers are now getting creative. 

A few months ago, 40 people were arrested in Dubai for the running a phone scam.

With the recent SMS and WhatsApp messages about VPN fines doing the rounds in the UAE (which TRA has denied), below are a few obvious tell-tale signs of a scam message that you should ignore. Or report to the police immediately, if it starts getting out of hand.

Grammatically incorrect

This is the first and obvious point. Look out for basic capitalisation, punctuation and sentence structure.


Scammers love enticing people with words and phrases that are designed to grab your attention and possibly scare you. Capital letters screaming out “URGENT ACTION NOW” or “CONTACT IMMEDIATELY” tends to worry you a bit and leads to panic, which could then lead to irrational decisions.

If this does happen and you’re still in doubt, contact the company they are trying to impersonate directly, never reply to the SMS, never call the number in the message and Never. Click. The. Hyperlink.

Never click the hyperlink

Usually scammers encourage you to click through links, which look rather similar to well-known brands and companies, such as telecom and service providers, or even banks. Every hyperlink and URL is unique, while these links look identical at first glance, you will always find it a bit off. When in doubt – get out.

SMS sender names

There are apps, programmes and websites that send out bulk SMS messages with custom names. Just look at your messages right now with promotional and marketing material sent across with brand names instead of numbers. These services are open to all at a small fee, and sometimes free as well. Scammers primarily use these to send out messages urging you to click through to a fake link and then submit your account details and passwords, which they can then store and use against you.

Personal information

If any of these messages require your email address, password or bank account details – ignore it immediately. Banks in the UAE regularly send out reminders that they never require this information from you. This is personal to you and you alone – and not privy to your bank as well.

Always verify before forwarding

A quick and easy way to do this is by Googling a part of the SMS with Snopes.com towards the end of the search. Or head to Snopes.com directly, the fact-checking site verifies or squashes myths and rumours that are generally circulated through email, SMS or WhatsApp forwards.

NOTE: If scammers continue to call you, do not engage or encourage them. Report the number the police immediately by calling:

901 in Sharjah and Dubai.
In Abu Dhabi, you can report fraudulent calls on 025088888, 8002626.

Lastly, secure your smartphone. Downloading a simple antivirus can help. I would recommend McAfee Mobile Security for iPhones and AVL for Android devices.