Phones ‘used for 90pc of bank fraud in Bahrain’

MANAMA: Ninety per cent of bank fraud in Bahrain during the first half of the year was done via phones, shows a new study.

The survey by Kaspersky also found that nearly a quarter (23pc) of people in Bahrain faced banking fraud at least once in the first six months of 2020.

The Russia-based cybersecurity and anti-virus provider discovered that the fraudulent calls were received mainly during business hours: Monday to Thursday, from 11am to 6pm.

More than half (54pc) of people in the kingdom realised immediately that scammers were trying to contact them and (47pc) grasped that they were being scammed only when they opened the link.

Scammers targeted most of these people (73pc) through their personal emails.

Fraudsters are seriously preparing for such calls and are actively using social engineering methods.

In 48pc of cases, they mentioned the correct name and surname of the person whom they called and in 43pc cases they even knew bank card credentials.

The most common myths were the need to confirm the data (74pc), information about the banking card blocking (76pc) and the loan offer (70pc).

Nearly a third (33pc) of the criminals were trying to get a code from short message services (SMS) or card data, and in every third case (39pc), they tried to convince a person to transfer money to an allegedly secure account.

“Financial scams continue to grow, in particular we’ve seen a 45pc increase in financial malware in the first half of 2020 in the GCC region. But at the same time, unfortunately, many people still do not know how to recognise criminals and lose money as a result of simple scam schemes. In case of a phone scam it’s better to end the conversation and call the bank’s official number should there be any suspicion,” says Kaspersky’s Middle East Research Centre head Amin Hasbini.

As a result of increased cyber attacks and fraud globally during the Covid-19 pandemic, Bahrain’s banking regulator has issued multiple warnings since January, urging consumers to keep track of their transactions, and refrain from sharing personal information with third parties.

The Central Bank of Bahrain advised users to be vigilant with SMSs, telephone calls, smartphone applications and websites, especially when dealing with their personal and banking information.

It suggested that consumers check SMS alerts to keep track of their transactions, and change their password periodically while accessing banking services online.

The GDN reported in June that Kaspersky had recorded 5,000 cyberattacks on smartphones in Bahrain since the start of the year.

According to Bahrain-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) Society president Dr Jassim Haji, basic precautions is all that’s needed to stay safe from scammers.

He said public or shared WiFi must be avoided while making online purchases, doing banking or financial transactions, or relaying financial information.

“Review your account statements and credit reports regularly to spot unauthorised or suspicious transactions. Document and report these immediately,” added Dr Haji.

The cyber-security expert has asserted that whenever possible, consumers must opt for two-factor authentication, such as face or biometric ID, plus a password, to maximise account protection.

“If in doubt, wait, verify, and do not respond to any unsolicited offers, emails, or calls, until you are 100pc certain of their authenticity and trustworthiness.

“Be alert to any instances of being asked to relay personal information by phone, email, or text – especially if it’s unsolicited. Verify that emails or phone calls are legitimate by contacting your bank directly,” he added.




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