How to Avoid and Report Phishing Scams in the UAE?

Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants | View firm profile

Phishing scams are very common, especially with the internet being so readily accessible on mobile phones. Phishing is a scam under which a person is tricked through emails, text messages or even calls. The scam is often done with the intent to steal the personal information of the victim, including names, passwords, and credit card details. It could also lead to a virus or malware being installed on the device of the victim.;

Laws Against Cyber Crimes

The UAE considers cyber safety and digital security important issues and accordingly, has taken initiatives in issuing laws, regulations, and guidelines toward combating cybercrimes.

The key one is the issuance of a new law on cybercrimes. The Federal Decree-Law No. 34 of 2021 (Cybercrime Law) has been issued to tackle cybercrimes, fake news and rumours. The Cybercrime Law punishes hacking, breaching personal or financial data and information, forgery of electronic documents, and publishing illegal content, amongst others.

What are the punishments for online fraud in the UAE?

The Cybercrime Law sets out the penalties for different types of online fraud. Some of the relevant ones are listed out below.

Fabrication:

A person who fabricates a website or emails an account and wrongly ascribes the name to a natural or juristic person is punishable under Article 11/1 of the Cybercrime Law. The punishment includes imprisonment and /or fines of at least AED 50,000 but not more than AED200,000. If the perpetrator uses or enables another person to use the fabricated website, email or account in a manner that abuses the victim, imprisonment of at least 2 years could be imposed as a penalty under Article 11/2.

Cyber Fraud:

A person who seizes, either for himself or others, any benefit, movable property, document or signature of such a document, by fraudulent means, or using a false name or impersonating oneself, through online mode would be liable for cyber fraud under Article 40. He will be punished with imprisonment for at least 1 year and pay fines of up to AED 1 million or either of these.

Personal or Government Data Breach:

If a person obtains, modifies, discloses, cancels or publishes any electronic personal data or information through an unauthorized manner by using technology is punishable with imprisonment of at least 6 months and /or fines of up to AED 100,000. It should be noted that if the personal data or information are health records (such as medical examinations, diagnoses, and treatment care), or related to banks and e-payment methods, this would be treated as an aggravating circumstance.

Additionally, if the data or information is confidential government data, then the punishments are much higher. Any acquisition, modification, disclosure, deletion, copying or leakage of confidential government data is punishable with imprisonment of not less than 7 years but could extend to 15 years. Fines ranging between AED 500,000 to AED 3 million could also be payable.

Electronic Payment Methods Breach:

If a person forges, counterfeits or copies a credit card or any e-payment method or acquires the data of these methods through information technology means, will be punishable with imprisonment or /and fines of up to AED 2 million.

How to report online fraud

Cybercrime should be reported to the nearest police station for further necessary action. The Governments of several Emirates have also created websites and applications on which a complaint related to cyber crimes can be submitted.

The UAE’s federal public prosecution has also launched an application called “My Safe Society” on which the public can report cyber crimes or any suspicious activities on social networking websites which could disrupt the security of the nation or general order or which could have a negative effect on public opinion.

Conclusion

Cybercrimes increase with the expansion of internet facilities to the public and therefore it is imperative for users to be extremely vigilant while inserting personal information or data on the information network, including bank details, passport details, credit card information and login and passwords.

More from Al Rowaad Advocates & Legal Consultants