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Telecommunications Regulatory Authority issues warning to UAE residents

Phone fraudsters now call people directly or send them a WhatsApp message to tell them that their ATM or credit cards are blocked and they need to call a certain number to fix the problem, Abdullah Buali, information security analyst at UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), said during a live podcast.

The podcast was part of the social media campaign by TRA on digital awareness and cybersecurity. Buali said one of the reasons given by scammers is the failure to update information on the card. Many residents fall victim to this scam and give out sensitive information, including the fail-safe one-time password (OTP) sent to bank customers.

“The numbers are not toll free and usually from places that are off-the-grid. The caller is charged instantly so it is very impor-tant not to call them back,” Buali said.

“Residents can block the number but, more importantly, they should report any fraudulent calls to the authorities,” noted Buali, adding that the TRA is working closely with authorities to crack down the scammers.

The TRA official said people should report any suspicious calls by dialling the non-emergency toll free number 901 or registering complaints online at www.ecrime.ae. He also pointed out that banks do not ask for updates or such information through the phone by calling customers.

“Report it (fraudulent call) to authorities. If the authorities don’t receive any complaints, how can they be aware and act on them,” he said.

Police recently arrested 25 suspects who were members of different gangs involved in phone call fraud operating in Sharjah and Ajman.

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