Over-confidence is leaving consumers in Qatar open to becoming victims of fraud, according to Visa’s annual Stay Secure study released today. Endorsed by Qatar Central Bank (QCB), the study shows that despite 69% of respondents (vs. 56% global average) claiming to be savvy enough to sidestep scams, 91% (similar to global) are likely to disregard the warning signs of online criminal activity.

Conducted by Wakefield Research in countries across Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMEA), Visa’s 2023 Stay Secure Study finds that 48% (vs 52% globally) in Qatar have been a victim of a scam at least once.  Even more alarming is the finding that 9% of the victims have been tricked multiple times, against a global average of 15%.

“In today’s digital-first world, scams are evolving in sophistication with criminals using new approaches to trick unsuspecting consumers. Whether it’s a parcel held up at customs, a streaming subscription claiming to have expired, or a free voucher for a favorite brand, scammers are adopting persuasive tactics to deceive their victims. With the rapid growth in digital payments, it is essential now more than ever that consumers in Qatar understand the language of fraud and act with a high level of caution. We thank Qatar Central Bank for their support in bringing our important campaign to local consumers,” explains Neil Fernandes, Visa's Head of Risk for Middle East and North Africa.

The Stay Secure Study is a part of Visa’s annual Stay Secure Campaign, which reflects Visa’s commitment to educating consumers and building their confidence to combat social engineering threats.  Endorsed by QCB, the campaign aims to pave the way for a secure and seamless digital payments experience.

“Costly Confidence”: The Disconnect Between Awareness and Action

Key Findings of the Visa Stay Secure Study:

  • Knowledgeable or naïve.  It is concerning that those who consider themselves more knowledgeable are more likely to respond to a requested action from scammers compared to those who say they are less knowledgeable, including a positive news (81% to 75% for Qatar vs global 74% to 67%) or urgent action (69% to 65% for Qatar vs global 65% to 55%).
  • People worry about the vulnerability of others. While respondents feel confident in their own vigilance, over half (55% vs. 52% globally) are concerned that their friends or families will fall for a scam email offering a free gift card or product from an online shopping site. Over a third (42%; 36% global) of respondents are concerned about children or minors, as well as retired people (29% compared to 36% global) falling prey to online scams.
  • What makes people suspicious. In addition to notices involving orders, product offers, or feedback, people are most suspicious of password requests. Less suspicious types of communications are updates regarding delivery or shipping (51% listed as a top three source of suspicion; 42% globally), marketing communications regarding a sale or new product offering (37% vs. global 41%), or an invitation to provide feedback on a recent experience (37%, similar to global) - all of which can be used by scammers.
  • Overlooking telltale signs. Only 64% (vs global 57%) reported looking to ensure a communication is sent from a valid email address, while 54% (vs global 52%) will check if the company name or logo was attached to the message. More than half of correspondents look for an order number (51%; global 45%) or an account number (47%; global 43%). Interestingly, 41% vs 33% globally look to ensure words are spelt correctly. 
  • Decoding The Language of Fraud

    The Visa Stay Secure Study identified prevalent patterns in the language most associated with scams – and how vulnerable respondents in the surveyed countries are.

  • Orchestrating Urgency: Cybercriminals often feign urgency to spur people into action, such as clicking a link or responding to a sender. Up to 43% of respondents (compared to 40% globally) will fall for messages about a security risk, such as a stolen password or a data breach, while a notice from a government entity or law enforcement can trick 40% (vs 36% global).  
  • Sharing Positive News: 79% (vs 71% global) of respondents would take action if a message had a positive hook, like “free gift,” “you’ve been selected,” or “you’re a winner.” Gen Zers are more likely to act on a notice from the government (38% vs 31% global) than a giveaway (30% vs 39% global), while 41% (vs 44% global) of respondents would click on a link or reply to a message that offered a financial opportunity.
  • Action Required: 62% (vs 60% globally) would respond to action-required phrases though respondents are most suspicious of requests to reset their password.
  • Spot The Signs: Education and Awareness to Catch Scams in Action

    Visit Visa’s Stay Secure Page for more insights from the 2023 Study, and follow us @VisaMiddleEast to learn about the language of fraud and how to avoid being a victim of scams.

     Visa’s Stay Secure Methodology - Online research surveyed 5,800 adults (ages 18+) in 17 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Côte d'Ivoire, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Serbia. Conducted throughout March-April 2023.