The use of stolen credit cards is the most common type of fraud Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dubai: Around one in 10 residents in the UAE has been a victim of online credit card fraud, with some saying their card details had been stolen and used for wrong purchases, a new survey has found.

The Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai, in collaboration with global payments technology company Visa, revealed the survey results on Sunday as it launched the weeklong campaign UAE Card Security Week.

The campaign, which runs from June 20 to June 27, aims to promote safe online shopping habits and educate consumers on how to avoid payment fraud in the UAE. The online campaign will feature live videos on social media (Facebook and YouTube) due to the growing adoption of online shopping and digital payment options in the UAE, especially during the month of Ramadan.

Of the 605 payment card users surveyed, more than 50 respondents said their credit card details had been stolen in the past. Some seven per cent of the respondents said their cards had been debited for the wrong purchases while six per cent said their purchased product was not delivered and four per cent had fallen victim to fake websites.

“For the DED, a major focus of its efforts towards preserving the integrity and reputation of Dubai as a popular shopping destination is on enabling consumers and traders to protect their rights,” Mohammad Ali Rashid Lootah, CEO of the Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection (CCCP) sector in the DED, said.

The Consumer Protection section in the DED receives three to seven complaints related to online purchases daily, said Ahmad Al Zaabi, Senior Manager-Consumer Awareness, at DED, although it is unclear how many of these complaints are related to online fraud. Al Zaabi said the DED is aware of the various challenges consumer protection bodies and countries face in keeping online purchases secure.

“The Department of Economic Development is expanding its awareness campaigns to combat such threats in the region focusing on vulnerable groups such as youngsters who are the largest online community. Through our joint campaign with Visa, online buyers will receive useful tips and tools to verify whether the sellers are genuine and then proceed to make safe and secure online purchases,” Al Zaabi said.

Neil Fernandes, Head of Risk for MENA, Visa, said with the increasing e-commerce activity among UAE residents, Visa and DED are committed to educating customers on how to make their online shopping fraud-proof.

“It is imperative that cardholders are aware about the growing risks of payment-related fraud. Cardholder safety is at the heart of Visa’s business, along with providing a safe and secure online shopping environment,” Fernandes said.

In February, Dubai Police said it participated in three of global airline action operations that resulted in the arrest of 381 suspects involved in online credit card fraud in two years. Some 45 countries benefited in the operation. Globally, the aviation industry loses around $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion) due to airline fraud.

Flight bookings are the topmost online purchases by 57 per cent of the respondents, according to the survey, followed by utility bills and movie tickets.

L.S., a secretary who works in Dubai, said she regularly uses her credit card to buy tickets online. Although she only makes her purchases on secure sites, she was still cheated by online fraudsters early this year. The good news, however, is that her bank took action right away.

“I was buying something online and realised that my credit card had been blocked. I called my bank and they told me that they detected a suspicious transaction of Dh1 in the US and blocked my card on my behalf. I have a double secure password, they must have caught the suspect because of that,” the Filipina told Gulf News.

But not everyone can be as lucky, she said, so educating oneself on how to keep online purchases secure will be helpful.


Avail of your bank’s or cardholder’s fraud-protection services:

1) For Visa holders, cardholders are not held liable if their cards are lost or stolen. Make sure you have a Visa anti-fraud systems, such as Verified by Visa, a password that confirms customer identity while making online payments. Take note of Visa transaction alerts and never brush off any suspicious activity even if the transaction is just Dh1. Visa also has predictive fraud analytics — known as Visa Advanced Authorisation — which constantly monitors suspicious activity every time customers use their payment cards.

2) Do business with reputable vendors.

3) Make sure your information is being encrypted. Secure sites usually have URLs that begin with “https:” and a padlock icon.

4) Be wary of emails requesting information.

5) Check your shopping app settings and privacy policies of websites before giving your information.

6) Check your statements, keep receipts of your purchases and compare them to your bank statements.

Source: Visa, US Computer Emergency Readiness Team