UAE banks combat Far East card fraud

OVER 80% of credit card fraud incidents affecting UAE residents travelling abroad took place in the Far East last year, according to Mashreqbank. The most common type of fraud is for card numbers to be copied, or ‘skimmed’, and then used to make copies.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  April 3, 2005

OVER 80% of credit card fraud incidents affecting UAE residents travelling abroad took place in the Far East last year, according to Mashreqbank. The most common type of fraud is for card numbers to be copied, or ‘skimmed’, and then used to make copies. The highest risk countries are Malaysia and Indonesia, but the US, Japan, Korea and some European countries are also fast becoming countries of concern to UAE banks. Furthermore, the fraudsters are finding ways of cracking the codes to new high-tech chipped cards as well as the older, traditional magnetic strip cards. “Although chip cards are much more difficult to counterfeit, they are not totally immune,” said Navneet Dave, cards business manager, Mashreqbank. “Last year about 80% of skimmed credit card frauds were committed in the Far East and since many UAE cardholders travel frequently to these countries, they are at risk and should exercise extreme caution,” he added. The UAE’s banks recommend that visitors to Asia should only make purchases from reputable organisations, such as major international hotel chains, and draw out enough cash to cover smaller transactions, like meal and shopping bills. However, many of the region’s banks now replace the cards of customers who have used them in Asia. “We monitor the situation very closely and pay particularly close attention to all our customers’ card transactions in the Far East,” said Dave. “Depending on usage patterns we also routinely replace the cards of customers who have used them in Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan, free of charge,” he added. All card-issuing UAE banks, together with Visa, MasterCard, the Central Bank and the police, are members of the UAE Security Fraud Forum (SFF). The controls and practices recommended by the Forum are implement-ed in varying degrees by almost all UAE banks. Bank statistics show that replacment of customers’ cards when they return from trips to the Far East has reduced the number of fraud incidents by 50%. Meanwhile, Mashreqbank offers its customers cards with small credit limits especially for travelling to areas where there is a threat of fraud. “As we are the only bank in the UAE to provide chip cards, our incidence of credit card fraud has been much lower than other banks,” said Dave. “But it is still of grave concern to us and we are constantly looking at new ways to further mitigate risk. These include enhanced technology, more stringent control processes and also educating our customers of the dangers and how to take precautions,” he added.

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