Mobile Recharge Scams

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The recharge scams have become a nuisance for phone users in the UAE. Between December 2010 and April this year, several people lost huge amount of money.

While victims blamed the telephone companies, the phone companies pointed fingers at banks. The banks in turn blamed the victims.

According to Kazi Mohammad Akram, General Manager of Ras Infotech, said that the phone companies should lower the credit limit a person can transfer to another phone.

Security measures

At least three banks operating in the UAE have reduced the credit limit by which customers can recharge pre-paid phones. Some banks have introduced one time passwords to improve the security.

ADCB has reduced the maximum amount to Dh200. Citibank has also reset the credit recharge limit to Dh250.

The Emirates NBD has changed its credit limit to Dh500. The per-day limit for all utility payments has been set at Dh10,000.

Hacking incidents

The hacking amount ranged from Dh28,500 to over Dh100,000. The hacking incidents in the UAE surged by 500 per cent in 2010, said the country’s top cyber sleuth, Tarek Al Hawi, Director of the National Computer Emergency Response Team (aeCERT).

Al Hawi’s team handled about 344 security incidents last year that included compromised accounts to phishing and web defacements, compared to 67 in 2009.

Abu Dhabi Police in April, had arrested five Arab men who had obtained 200 prepaid GSM cards by using forged trading licences, passports, residency permits, and stamps. The gang worked jointly with retail shops to carry out credit balance transfers.

However, the lawyers say to get reimbursement from banks is a gambling as banks have different policies in dealing with disputes over online purchases.

Why do hackers use phone recharge as their favourite mode of attack?

According to Megha Kumar, a software research manager at IT think-tank International Data Corp., it is difficult to trace small amounts compared to bigger amounts.

The problem, as viewed by experts, is that the hackers hijack local computer networks.

On April 19 this year, hackers are reported to have stolen about 14,000 personal financial details of UAE customers from the PlayStation Network (PSN).

Telephone companies

A du spokesperson has confirmed extending all possible assistance and cooperation to help the concerned banks and local authorities.

However, an Etisalat spokesperson said they are just the service providers; it is not their responsibility to track criminals who are using their infrastructure.

Customer protection

Companies in UAE had spent about Dh110 million on IT security in 2010, which is 14 per cent higher than year 2009. However, experts stress the onus of responsibility related to online transaction lies with banks.

Experts suggest that the banks should have dual authentication for online transactions.

 

Tips for self-guarding against online fraud

1. If online banking is not within your limits, it is better to get the Internet banking disabled.

2. Ensure not to give details about credit card via SMS, e-mail, or any other mode.

3. Never reveal the PIN number to strangers.

4. Be alert about the surroundings; try to avoid typing in front of other people.

5. Cross check the transaction receipts against the card statement appearing on the bank statement.

6. Ensure that all the Internet shopping websites are secure enough before proceeding to make any payments.

7. Use the virtual keyboard to type in the password.

8. If the card is lost or misplaced, quickly intimate proper authorities, including the police, in the case of identity theft.

 

Source: newzglobe.com, emirates247, Gulf News

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