More and more UAE residents are shopping online – but many more are still nervous about their credit card safety and the security of online shopping. A lot of banks offer valuable extra services to protect you against credit card fraud; here are some you may have overlooked.

 1. Fraud and insurance

Last year’s arrest of a criminal gang with 166 credit cards carrying a potential value of AED 16 million was a reminder of the threat credit card fraud poses to consumers…

  • Proof: If you can prove you were a victim of credit card fraud – say, if your card was skimmed – your bank should cover any losses. It will help your case if you report the loss immediately, and ideally within 24 hours.
  • Duty of care: If your issuer suspects you have failed in your duty to take good care of your card – for example, if you have loaned it to a friend or family member who misused it – there is a danger that you could end up footing the bill.
  • Fraud insurance: Many banks now offer credit card fraud insurance. Dubai First, for example, covers you against fraudulent credit card transactions, but only up to AED 2,386 per incident, or a cumulative total of AED 6,239 a year.
  • Track it yourself: If you don’t want to pay extra for this cover, you can keep track of all your bills using online statements and SMS mobile banking, to check for suspicious activity.
  • Report it: Report any suspect transactions as soon as possible, and ideally within 45 days. Issuers often use this as a cut-off point and won’t consider any complaints filed after this period.

2. SMS

Many credit card issuers will now send you an SMS alert after every transaction, whether spending money or withdrawing cash, locally and internationally. Some card issuers back this up with email alerts as well. Such alerts will help you quickly spot any suspect activity or credit card fraud – again, remember to report this to your bank as soon as possible.

  • How to register? To sign up for SMS banking, you will first have to register your mobile phone number. Then all you need to do is text your current or savings account number, along with a special code given to you by your bank (or published on its website).
  • Any fees? The SMS service from banks is a paying service however, more and more banks are giving it out for free realising that it is a great way to avoid fraud or finding out early.  Some banks would provide the service free of charge to their premium customers only.  A good idea to check with your bank if you want to activate the service.
  • Who offers this? ADCB, Arab Bank, Barclays, Citibank, Emirates NBD, HSBC, Mashreq, Rakbank, Standard Chartered and others all offer SMS services.

3. Prepaid cards

  • Prepaid cards from your bank, backed by MasterCard and Visa, can be topped up online.
  • You can then use them to go shopping in stores or online, both in the UAE and overseas.
  • These cards protect you against credit card fraud because you can only spend the balance that has been preloaded onto it. So, if your card does fall into the wrong hands, your potential losses are limited.
  • You can even buy them at some supermarkets, like Geant and other major stores.

Table: Prepaid cards

Issuer Cards available
Emirates Islamic Bank The Prepaid Card
Majid Al Futtaim Finance Re-loadable CardInternet Shopping CardVisa Gift Card
RakBank Bling Prepaid CardLoaded Prepaid Card
Sharjah Islamic Bank MasterCard Prepaid Card

[Related: UAE online shopping sites: How do they compare? / What is Credit Shield?