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Coronavirus Pandemic

Don't click on that link: UAE Central Bank warns customers

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on March 30, 2020 | Last updated on March 30, 2020 at 10.48 am
coronavirus, phishing, bank fraud, UAE central bank, covid-19


Always verify the email address and the phone number before responding to the message.

The Central Bank of the UAE as well as commercial banks have asked residents to beware of phishing attacks as fraudsters are using different tactics for fraudulent activities.

The residents were warned there will be a rise in phishing emails during the coronavirus outbreak as fraudsters will take advantage of the situation around coronavirus. Hence, the UAE residents must not share personal or bank account information with anyone, they said.

Similar to instructions issued by commercial banks, the Central Bank on Monday alerted that it never asks for personal details from consumer and any such calls or messages should be considered fraudulent.

"We at Central Bank of the UAE confirm that we never ask consumers about private information such as personal and bank account information, and warn consumers to be alert and aware of malicious phone calls and WhatsApp messages claiming to be from Central Bank, which are of a fraudulent nature," the regulator said in a statement.

It warned the public to avoid responding to such calls, messages, and opening any hyperlink that may be attached, which may provide exposure to a malicious website, and inform authorities immediately.

The apex bank informed that it never conducts phone calls (unless a consumer complaint has been logged through the right channels with a reference number) or uses social media to contact individuals or businesses.

Dubai's largest bank Emirates NBD also alerted its customers against phishing attacks.

Given the developing situation around the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, "there will be rise in fraud and phishing emails that you may receive", it said in a statement.

"We urge you to be highly vigilant and always check the source of the communication (i.e. email address, phone number, text message) before replying to the communication or clicking on any links of attachments," it said in an e-mail sent to its customers.

The UAE consumers are not the only target of phishing attacks. In fact, it has become a global issue for the banks. In the UK, some banks said customers had already been caught out by fraudsters posing as banks, government and even health service providers to persuade victims to hand over password or other sensitive details. Similarly, fraud is also on the rise in the US where regulators have warned about investment and data theft scams.

According to data gathered by Atlas VPN, the number of global phishing websites spiked by 350 per cent amid Covid-19 quarantine.

It said the number of phishing website totalled 149,195 in January, which increased by 50 per cent to 293,235 in February and grew further in March to 522,495.

The UAE Central Bank said it is closely working with concerned local authorities to halt such fraudulent activities.

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