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UAE urged to adopt chip-and-pin

More secure card technology needed to stop repeat of last week's wide-scale fraud, experts say.

UAE banks are being urged to adopt chip-and-pin technology to prevent a repeat of last week’s wide-scale card fraud, in which potentially thousands of customers had money stolen out of their accounts.

Experts have said chip-and-pin technology, used in Europe and other developed nations, would make the country’s banking system much more secure and reduce the possibility of a repeat of the fraud, UAE daily Emirates Business reported on Saturday.

With chip-and-pin technology customer information is held on a microchip in the card, more secure than the conventional magnetic strip, and a PIN number rather than a signature is used to verify some is the genuine cardholder.

Last week thousands of people were frantically calling bank customer care centres and queuing at ATM machines after receiving SMS messages warning them to change the PIN numbers on all their debit cards.

Some customers also had their cards cancelled as banks scrambled to limit the extent of the problem after a spree of fraudulent withdrawals from both inside and outside of the UAE.

Lloyds TSB, HSBC, Citibank, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Dubai Bank are among lenders that have sent statements warning customers of the threat.

Banks have been reluctant to reveal the scale of the fraud, with Dubai Bank the only lender so far to detail how many of its customers have been affected – standing at 42.

No bank has revealed how much money has been stolen, although there have been reports of individuals losing up to 26,000 dirhams ($7,000). Most banks have agreed to reimburse affected customers.