How to protect ourselves from online fraud?

While most people are trustworthy, not everyone is trustworthy.

When it comes to our finances we can never be too careful, especially if we are responsible for caring three generations of people who depend on us (our parents and children).

On 20180208, a friend from USA was sharing about his colleague who had to spend a lot of time with the police to deal with theft of his bank account. Both of them are intellectual men with PhD in mathematics, yet one of them still fell victim to an online scam.

On 20180220, after one of the most expensive dinners we had in Abu Dhabi so far this year, I took a complimentary copy of Abu Dhabi World magazine, where Colin Armstrong shared about safety tips to protect us from financial fraud.

To stay safe from online & financial fraud:

  1. Keep track of our bank balance regularly.
    1. save a screenshot / PDF copy of our bank account as banks are also subjected to fraud targets and may make mistakes
    2. create a spreadsheet of our expenditure and update it regularly.
  2. Use only trusted websites & secure online payment platforms when making a purchase.
  3. Do not hand our bank card over to a complete stranger (e.g. at the petrol station, a restaurant or a shop) with blind trust for them to carry out a transaction.
    1. Why? It would have been easy for anyone to take note of your card details, or even snap a picture of the card without you noticing.
    2. Since 20180221, I would bring my card to the cashier and wait there to pay instead of handing it over to a waiter/waitress.
  4. Always take the ATM receipt with us (and shred it if we do not need it any more) as it often display our full card number.
  5. Select a PIN code that is unique, aovid easy-to-guess patterns like 1234 or 0000.
  6. Don’t carry a copy of our PIN code with us; instead memorize our PIN.
  7. Don’t ever tell anyone our PIN code but instead be sure to insert the code ourselves when making a transaction.
  8. Don’t give our our full bank details over the phone or online, even if it seems like we are talking to bank.
  9. Act fast, don’t panic, if (I hope this will never happen to us) “you wake up in the morning and you have a text message from your bank telling you that thousands of dirhams have been spent from your account in the middle of the night.” [1]

***

[1] On 20170125, my credit card was used for an unauthorized transaction in Luxembourg while I have never returned there since 2008. I called the bank many times to cancel the credit card, but the bank staff irritatingly repeated attempts for me to keep my credit card. Thankfully, my grit to protect our savings won (the Luxembourg merchant tried to charge me again) and I became free of credit card in the country where I work (though the USA friend has been using his USA credit card for the cash back for savings). Then, it took multiple persistent phone calls and emails for the bank to refund me the amount of the unauthorized transaction that I paid to the bank, so that I could terminate the credit card!

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