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UAE banks step up security after card theft

Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Citibank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Dubai Bank hit by fraud.

Banks in the United Arab Emirates have introduced new security measures and warned customers to change debit and credit card codes after fraudsters used counterfeit cards to withdraw money from accounts.

"Following a countrywide increase in card fraud, Lloyds TSB Middle East, as part of a coordinated approach with other banks in the UAE, strongly recommends that all of our customers urgently change the pin numbers of their debit cards," the bank said in a statement on Thursday.

Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Citibank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Dubai Bank are among lenders that have sent statements warning customers of the threat in recent days after a spree of fraudulent withdrawals both inside and outside of the UAE.

Some of the banks have promised to reimburse customers who have lost money while others have resorted to blocking customer transactions in some overseas locations to limit the problem.

It was not clear how much money had been stolen from UAE account-holders, but Dubai Bank said it had temporarily blocked international use of its automated teller machines after 42 of its customers were affected.

"National Bank of Abu Dhabi utilises sophisticated fraud monitoring techniques and was able to quickly detect the attacks and take urgent action to limit the problem," Saif Al-Shehhi, senior general manager of NBAD's domestic banking division, said in a statement.

"We had to block certain transactions from overseas locations ... It must be stressed that no customer will be out of pocket as a result of this incident and NBAD will fully refund any customers accounts affected by this attack." (Reuters)

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