cyber threat, cyber crime, hacking, cyber security
Image Credit: Gulf News

Dubai: Police issued two new warnings on Sunday, cautioning residents to protect themselves from con artists and blackmailers.

First, the authority issued a fresh alert to residents to protect themselves from scammers and to refrain from sharing their debit or credit card numbers and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Dubai Police, in a tweet, warned residents to not fall for scammers seeking money through "fake prizes" saying, "Remember that scammers seek your money through fake prizes. Never share your debit/ credit card number and PIN.”

Digital platforms have made it easier for users worldwide to communicate and spread information. But the price of online convenience is that people are 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 by offering them fake prizes. They may also convince them into forwarding money by pretending to be from a legitimate company, government office or retailer.

In yet another tweet, Dubai Police informed residents to report extortion or blackmailing immediately to the authority and that it handles all cases with utmost confidentiality. “Don’t hesitate to report it,” said Dubai Police.

“Dubai Police handles cyber blackmail reports confidentially. Don’t be a victim, and report any threat now,” Dubai Police said on its official twitter handle on Thursday. Police have been repeatedly reminding people to encourage them to report cybercrimes.

In an earlier statement, police urged residents to report online fraud using the hassle free e-Crime platform without the need to visit a police station.

Earlier this year, Dubai Police advised residents to report online fruad using the hassle free e-Crime platform without the need to visit a police station.

This Self-Service (e-crime portal) allows the public to record a complaint regarding cybercrimes. To facilitate the procedures, complainants are required to fill out the form.

“This service is specific to crimes happened within the geographical scope of Dubai city,” Dubai Police said in an earlier tweet.

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Criminals can easily exploit inadequate security settings of youngsters on social networking sites to misuse personal data, experts at a conference on digital forensics and cyber crime in the capital have warned. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

The most common cybercrime issues that should be reported on e-Crime platform include: cyber extortion, online hacking, Internet fraud and online identity theft.

Police said that any hesitation on their part to report such crimes will only encourage scamsters to target more victims.

How to report cyber crime

Visit www.ecrime.ae

Answer the question: ‘Is the report submitted related to the internet or cyberspace? (Email, social media, internet calls, cybercrime, hacking, blackmail)’

Choose the complaint type: Personal, private entity, local government entity or federal entity

Submit your Emirates ID electronically

Submit your address, mobile number and email ID

The platform will text you a verification code to your mobile phone, which you then enter on the platform

Enter the complaint details and submit

How to avoid online scams from UAE banks

Following Dubai Police's warning on Sunday regarding fake prizes sold by online scammers to con people, we at Gulf News have put together a list of tips you can use to avoid being scammed. Here are some common mistakes people do and see how you can avoid them.

  • Treat your card as cash, never leave it unattended. In the same way, carry only the cards you need, especially when travelling.
  • Pro-tip: You could get a Travel card; you can use this card as prepaid card for expenses while travelling. You can add money on the card as and when it runs out - it is not directly linked to the funds in your bank account.
  • Sign the back of your credit card immediately after you receive it.
  • Record card numbers, expiration dates and customer care numbers clearly and store these in a safe place. Use it if you need to report your lost or stolen cards.
  • Never note your card number, or personal identification number (PIN) on the outside of an envelope or postcard. Never put any notes with your PIN on the card itself or in your wallet. Don't store essential passwords on your mobile either.
  • Act quickly if you suspect fraud. If you believe someone is trying to commit fraud by pretending to be your bank, notify the bank immediately.
  • Change your online banking password often and use strong alphanumeric passwords.
  • Do not visit suspicious sites. Look for a secure connection. This is usually identified by a green area in the address bar, along with https in the URL.
  • Make sure your home computer has the most current anti-virus software. Install a personal firewall to help prevent unauthorised access to your home computer. This is especially important if you connect to the internet via broadband.
  • Monitor your transactions regularly. Review your order confirmations, credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them to make sure you are being charged only for transactions that have taken place. Immediately report any irregularities to your bank.

Source: Emirates NBD, Mashreq Bank and RAK Bank websites