42 Dubai Bank customers hit by ATM fraud

Bad news comes just weeks after bank wins highest security accolade.

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By  Claire Ferris-Lay Published  September 11, 2008

Dubai Bank on Thursday temporarily blocked international use of its ATM cards after it revealed 42 of its customers had been affected by a wave of fraud sweeping the UAE.

The news comes just one month after the Islamic lender was awarded the highest accreditation for its Information Security Management System (ISMS) which aims to protect its customers and their transactions.

Dubai Bank's head of retail banking, Mohamed Amiri, said the Bank had acted to verify and refund claims immediately, with the refund process being completed shortly.

"We have communicated directly with our customers to advise them of necessary precautions, and we have already implemented a series of measures to protect customer accounts and minimise any potential threats," said Amiri.

UAE banks have issued thousands of SMS warnings to customers advising them to change their PIN.

HSBC Middle East said on Thursday that a substantial number of fraudulent ATM transactions have been avoided by customers changing their PIN.

The bank said it was unlikely that any customer using only HSBC ATMs would have been affected by the recent attacks and only a small number of its customers had been affected.

“A substantial number of fraudulent transactions have been detected and stopped because customers have changed their PIN numbers,” Jonathan Campbell-James, head of Security and Fraud Risk, Middle East, HSBC Middle East, told Arabian Business.

“It is unlikely that any customer who has only used HSBC ATMs will have been affected by these recent problems,” he added.

Campbell-James urged customers who had not yet changed their PIN to do so “at their earliest convenience.”

Lloyds TSB Middle East urged all their customers to urgently change the pin numbers of their debit cards.

The bank said it had been made aware that a "relatively small number of customers" had so far been affected by fraudulent activity.

A spokesman said: "We advise that customers change their pin numbers immediately. Customers should also be extra vigilant when using ATMs by protecting their PIN numbers and contacting the relevant bank should anything appear unusual at an ATM machine."

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) announced that it would fully refund any customer who has been affected by fraudsters who have used counterfeit cards to withdraw cash from customer accounts over the last three days.

Saif Al Shehhi, senior general manager of NBAD's Domestic Banking Division, said: "It must be stressed that no customer will be out of pocket as a result of this incident.

"We are currently investigating the source of the problem and will advise further as we know. We also urge customers to change their PIN codes at our ATM's as a further precaution."

The warning comes a day after HSBC, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD and National Bank of Abu Dhabi said some of their customers had been affected and warned others to change their PIN numbers as a precaution.

HSBC warned customers to be wary when using ATM machines as criminal gangs can place a false card reader on the entry slot of an ATM and a micro-camera above the ATM to read the PIN as it is input.

The information can then be used to manufacture counterfeit cards, known as card skimming.

Card fraud is becoming a growing problem in the UAE, with several high-profile cases coming to light this year.

How has your bank dealt with this crisis? Email the author with your comments.

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