Four in 10 UAE consumers experienced online fraud attempts amid pandemic: Report

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Almost four in 10 consumers in the United Arab Emirates experienced online fraud attempts in the past year, a new study finds, despite a rise in digital trust and payments confidence, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported on Monday.

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Fraud attempts

The findings, which were revealed in a joint statement released on Monday by Dubai Police, Dubai Economy (DED) and Visa from the 2021 Stay Secure survey, indicated that 39 percent of UAE consumers had experienced online fraud attempts. Around 27 percent of them experienced phishing, less than 19 percent were subject to credit card fraud and 17 percent received counterfeit goods.

In a testament of trust to the country’s law enforcement, half of the survey’s respondents said that they would contact local authorities in the event of a fraud attempt.

Woman makes a payment using her card at a coffee shop. (Unsplash, Clay Banks)
Woman makes a payment using her card at a coffee shop. (Unsplash, Clay Banks)

“As people spend more and more time online, including many for the first time, fraudsters are using this as an opportunity to exploit consumers’ fears and lack of knowledge,” said Dubai Police’s Director of Criminal Investigation Department Brigadier Jamal Salem al-Jalaf.

“We strongly believe that government authorities, the private sector and local communities all have an important role to play in raising awareness among UAE residents,” he added.

Digital trust in cashless payments

The survey also found that digital payments both in-store and online will continue to rise due to improved technology and security measures.

The use of cash among UAE consumers continues to decline, the report found. Ecommerce and contactless payments continued to gain traction, accounting for 98 percent, while Cash on Delivery was found to have declined by 75 percent.

“Shopping in Dubai presents a remarkable opportunity fir retail innovations as it involves a vast and varied customer demographics and businesses,” said Dubai Economy’s Director of Consumer Protection Ahmad al-Zaabi.

Around 63 percent of consumers expressed a high level of confidence in digital payments, including the use of contactless card and mobile wallets, indicating an increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two debit cards laid out next to an iPad displaying ecommerce website AliExpress. (Unsplash,
Two debit cards laid out next to an iPad displaying ecommerce website AliExpress. (Unsplash,

“At Dubai Economy, we focus on making shopping in the city a pleasant experience and we have leveraged every opportunity, including the increase in online shopping in the aftermath of COVID-19, to encourage consumers to enjoy the benefits of cashless and contactless shopping,” al-Zaabi added.
The respondents’ trust in contactless payments cited convenience (60 percent), speed (59 percent), a greater sense of control (46 percent), and avoiding human contact (56 percent).

Biometric-verified payments (mobile wallets) scored high with 67 percent of the respondents stating that they believed it was secure and 60 percent saying it gave them a sense of complete control as it eliminated the hassle of having to remember passwords and that their phone never leaves their hands.

Among the respondents who expressed trust in digital payments, 52 percent said that having knowledge of the underlying security technologies that protected digital payments (such as tokenization) helped build their confidence in cashless transactions.

However, those who lacked knowledge in technology had lagging doubt about safety, with 47 percent fearing misuse of lost of stolen contactless debit cards.

Visa’s Head of Risk for the Middle East and North Africa said, “As our survey results indicate, consumers have fully embraced digital payments in the COVID-19 era but that does not come without risks. As consumers shift online, fraudsters have sought opportunities to exploit these changes in how people pay for goods and services. This is why constant consumer education is so much more important than ever before.”

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