Dubai Police issues new warning to social media users. Image Credit: Dubai Police/ Twitter

Dubai: Authorities in Dubai are again warning residents to protect themselves from scammers online who are out to steal their identity or empty their bank account.

The Dubai Police on Wednesday issued an alert, telling consumers to refrain from sharing details of their bank account or forwarding funds online to people they don’t know.

Internet users are also being advised to ensure their personal data is protected while using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networking platforms.

“Never send money or share your bank details to online strangers. Protect yourself and data while using social networking sites. Protect yourself against social media scams,” the Dubai Police said.

Digital platforms have made it easier for users worldwide to communicate and spread information. But the price of online convenience is that people are becoming increasingly exposed to scammers.

In what is now popularly known as phishing, fraudsters gain control of a person’s bank account by tricking internet users into sending their personal information. They may also convince them into forwarding some money by pretending to be from a legitimate company, government office or retailer.

The scam alert from Dubai Police was issued just as reports are again emerging of platforms snooping on people’s online activities and selling their personal data to other entities.

The Intercept reported this week that it has seen a confidential document that proves Facebook is allegedly pulling its users’ personal data, including the social groups they’ve signed up to, location history and interests and sharing them to phone makers and telecom companies in 50 countries.

The data have reportedly been used by corporate partners to assess the credit worthiness of consumers, as well as to support racially targeted ads.

The social media networking giant, however, denied the claim. “We do not, nor have we ever, rated people’s credit worthiness for Actionable Insights or across ads, and Facebook does not use people’s credit information in how we show ads.”

In order to ensure your personal details don’t land in the wrong hands, here are a few tips from

Beware of “phishy” emails. Fraudsters can pretend to be from a legitimate retailer, bank, organisation, or government agency. The sender asks to “confirm” your personal information for some made-up reason: your account is about to be closed, an order for something has been placed in your name, or your information has been lost because of a computer problem.

Phishers may also pose as representatives of the fraud department of a popular company and pretend to verify your information because they suspect you may be a victim of identity theft.

Avoid clicking on links within emails that ask for your personal information. Links are embedded in emails to trick people into accessing fake websites that look just like the real sites of the company, organisation, or agency that fraudsters are impersonating. If you follow the instructions and enter your personal information on the website, you’ll deliver it directly into the hands of identity thieves. To check whether the message is really from the company or agency, call it directly or go to its official site.

Never enter your personal information in a pop-up screen. Sometimes, a phisher will direct you to a real company’s, organisation’s, or agency’s website, but then an unauthorised pop-up screen created by the scammer appears out of the blue, with blanks in which to provide your personal information. If you fill it in, your information will go to the phisher. Legitimate companies, agencies and organisations don’t ask for personal information via pop-up screens. Install pop-up blocking software to help prevent this type of phishing attack.

Be wary when some contacts you and says you’ve been a victim of fraud. If this happens, the first thing you want to do is verify the person’s identity before you provide any personal information. Legitimate credit card issuers and other companies may contact you if there is an unusual pattern indicating that someone else might be using one of your accounts. But usually they only ask if you made particular transactions; they don’t request your account number or other personal information. Law enforcement agencies might also contact you if you’ve been the victim of fraud. To be on the safe side, ask for the person’s name, the name of the agency or company, the telephone number, and the address. Get the main number from the phone book, the Internet, or directory assistance, then call to find out if the person is legitimate.

Be suspicious if someone contacts you unexpectedly and asks for your personal information. It’s hard to tell whether something is legitimate by looking at an email or a website, or talking to someone on the phone. But if you’re contacted out of the blue and asked for your personal information, it’s a warning sign that something is “phishy.” Legitimate companies and agencies don’t operate that way.