ATM frauds hit UAE banks

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{image-ATM frauds hit UAE banks_18092008.jpg}Dubai, Sep 18: UAE's top banks has warned hundreds of thousands of customers that their accounts may be compromised and urged them to change their personal identification numbers (PIN) immediately.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD), Citibank, Emirates NBD, HSBC and possibly other banks sent multiple warnings via text message to their customers' mobile phones throughout the day. The ATMs of these banks also displayed warnings to change the password after many customers were defrauded by conmen abroad who withdrew money or made purchases using UAE credit or ATM cards. The moves underscored concerns about the safeguards of automated credit and debit card transactions in the country, but also showed a willingness on the part of banks to warn customers early about the problems.

'Together with other UAE-based banks, we have been experiencing an attack on our local accounts from counterfeit ATM card usage abroad,' Jonathan Campbell-James, the head of security and fraud risk at HSBC West Asia told the National Daily from Abu Dhabi.

''We have been proactively communicating to our customers via SMS to change their PIN numbers at any HSBC ATM as a precaution, and have implemented various containment strategies to minimise the threat posed,'' he added.

Last week, authorities said they were investigating a widespread credit card fraud in which debit cards were being illegally cloned and used outside the country. Many Indians were among those duped.

In this latest breach, banks were alerted to suspicious transactions on Sunday after a number of foreign withdrawals were made on UAE-issued debit cards, according to a banker familiar with the situation.

Thieves were able to acquire PIN numbers and electronic data from the black strip of UAE-issued ATM cards. With that data, money can be withdrawn from machines. They then fashioned counterfeit cards that were used to withdraw money from UAE accounts from locations outside the country.


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