‘Will my bank refund my savings of $12,250 that was lost in a scam?’

I recently received an SMS asking to pay 10 Dh ($2.7) for the delivery of a parcel. As I was expecting a courier delivery at the time, I clicked on the link and used my debit card to make payment, having received a one-time password link.

I was asked to put the OTP one more time. When the payment was made, I received an SMS from my bank informing me of a transfer of 45,000 Dh to another account.

I immediately called my bank to inform them of the scam. They promised to investigate the matter.

However, after following the bank for two months, they are now telling me it’s not their fault and blaming me instead. The bank also refuses to reimburse the lost amount.

They also blame the card issuer, saying the company is unwilling to refund the amount.

I am traumatized to lose a large part of my savings. The attitude of the bank which blames the victims is also disappointing.

How do I get my money back from the bank? Should I also file a complaint with the police? JK, Dubai

Debt 1 panelist: Steve Cronin, founder of DeadSimpleSaving.com

This scam is very common right now, mainly because it works so well. We all receive packages and sometimes there are customs duties or other unexpected charges.

You have, however, broken at least three cardinal rules. It’s best never to make a payment from an SMS link – start by assuming that all links sent to you are fraudulent, then go from there.

Scammers can make it look like it’s from someone else, like the scam that appears to be sending messages from the police or a government department.

You should be able to complete any payment requested through the Company’s website using a provided transaction or tracking code.

Likewise, if someone calls you to request payment, you should hang up and call the business back on their primary phone number.

The second mistake is using your debit card instead of a credit card. Your debit card is the key to your checking account. You should only use it to withdraw cash from an ATM.

Everything else has to go on a credit card (fully paid every month). If a credit card transaction is fraudulent, you have greater protection and the money will not have disappeared from your account immediately.

Unfortunately for you, the money has disappeared from your checking account. You were right to inform the bank immediately – and I assume the card was canceled so no further amounts could be charged.

But by providing the card details yourself and then telling the bank that’s what you did, you’ve given them a reason not to refund you or find the money.

Banks in the UAE are not required to refund customers who willfully give out their card details through negligence. You can threaten to transfer your salary and banking relationship to another bank, although I’m not sure that will make them want to help you.

You can also file a police report and they can try to track the phone sending the text but, if the location of the scammer is not known, they may not be able to do much and recover not your money.

The third mistake you made was keeping a lot of your savings in your checking account. If you had kept a maximum of 10,000 Dh in your current account and then transferred the rest to a savings account, you would not have suffered such a large loss.

I’m sorry to say that you’ll probably have to come to terms with this loss and learn how to keep most of your money more securely in savings accounts and wise investments.

Debt Speaker 2: Joseph El Am, Deputy CEO of StashAway Mena

With the evolution of technology, cybercrime has become a major threat to today’s society.

Cybercrime is on the rise and scammers are finding new ways to trick people and steal their hard-earned savings. I’m so sorry to hear that you lost a lot of your savings to them.

I advise you to inform the police. You should have done that as the first step.

When it comes to scams and cybercrimes, you shouldn’t just involve your bank. As soon as this happens, block your account and the card to make sure the criminals don’t come back for more. Open an investigation with the bank and the police.

Dubai police are highly skilled in tracking down criminals and bringing them to justice. They have an internal cybercrime unit, where you can file your complaint. You can visit them, call them or report the incident on the Dubai Police app.

For future reference, check the source of emails and text messages you receive.

Even if you expected to receive a package, make sure you know who is delivering it to you. Do you know the name of the company delivering the item? Otherwise, do a quick Google search.

Before clicking on a link, make sure the domain is correct and trusted. Another trick to check the authenticity of the website is to see if the URL starts with https rather than http.

For any payment, big or small, I recommend using a credit card instead of a debit card. This will save you from losing large sums of money as the debit card is linked to the money in your bank account.

However, some credit cards have insurance for such crimes, so you can benefit from it.

Moreover, the fact that the fraudsters were able to withdraw 45,000 Dh is a big red flag. Be sure to set a daily limit on how much you can spend.

Check the authenticity of the website to see if the URL starts with https rather than http

Joseph El Am, Deputy General Manager, StashAway Mena

You can always adjust the limit if you have a big payment coming up, but leaving it open leaves the door open for criminals.

Debt 3 Panelist: Carol Glynn, Founder of Conscious Finance Coaching

I’m so sorry this happened and you were scammed out of such a large amount of money. This is a very common fraud that many people fall victim to.

This is a more complex situation because you provided the OTP pin. This, in substance and in the eyes of the bank, is proof that you approved the fraudulent transaction.

This may seem unfair, but from the bank’s perspective, it differs from fraud where your card is used without your knowledge.

I suggest you file a complaint with the police. I also recommend that you contact the card issuer and request a refund through them.

Once you have the police report, go to your bank in person and ask to speak to your relationship manager. Provide them with a copy of the report and ask them to refund you the full amount.

To protect yourself, always use a credit card for online transactions. Online fraud is on the increase and becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Using a credit card protects your money, limits your risk to your credit limit, and makes it easier to get a refund from the bank.

Another way to avoid this is to reduce your online transfer limit to a small amount such as Dh1000. This way the transfer would have been rejected and they couldn’t have defrauded you for 45,000 Dh.

Also, it is wise to keep large sums of money in an account such as a savings account, which is not associated with a debit card.

Keep only the small amounts you need in your checking account. It will also protect you from similar scams if you don’t have a credit card and need to transact online.

The Debt Panel is a weekly column to help readers manage their debts more effectively. If you have a question for the panel, write to [email protected]

Updated: August 17, 2022, 5:25 a.m.