Hefty fines for credit card abusers in UAE

Published April 27th, 2017 - 11:03 GMT
Credit card misuse can cost you up to Dh2 million ($0.5 million) of fine in UAE. (Pixabay)
Credit card misuse can cost you up to Dh2 million ($0.5 million) of fine in UAE. (Pixabay)

I am a victim of false business promise which landed me in big trouble. One of the friends of my wife introduced a popular direct selling business plan to me. Though I was not convinced about the direct selling business, I fell prey to their jugglery of words, promises and dreams. One person convinced me to join the business by purchasing products worth $9,335. He used my credit card for the purchase of products online from his computer.

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However, after the purchase of products, I felt that I was cheated by the individuals and requested them to cancel the purchase. But they delayed my request and the company informed that it will charge 5 per cent transaction fees in bank charges as per the terms and conditions mentioned in their purchase which was not conveyed to me. The individuals who introduced me to direct selling business advised me to initiate legal action against the company to waive off the bank charges. The company's representatives mentioned that they are not responsible for false information provided to me. I paid Dh35,300 and due to the cancellation, I will be losing around Dh4,500, including the bank charges and exchange rate loss. Can I register a complaint against the company to get my amount lost due to cancellation? 

Pursuant to your questions, first and foremost you need to check the authenticity of the company if it is allowed to conduct direct selling business, in the UAE. You may verify the licence of the company in their premises as it is mandatory for all businesses in the UAE to display their licence in their respective offices. In the event, direct selling is not mentioned in the licence of the company, and they conduct direct selling then the company is conducting illegal business.

You may contact Consumer Protection Department at Dubai Economic Department and place your grievances before them.

It is not advisable to hand over your credit card/debit card to a third party to do transactions on your behalf. What evidence do you have to accuse the person who used your card to make payment, without your consent? In fact, how will you accuse such a person of using your card without your consent when you must have voluntarily handed over your card to this individual. Did this individual take your card forcefully to use it without consent?

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If this individual forcefully took your card and used it without your consent you may file a complaint against the individual pursuant to Article 13(2) of the Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 related on Combating Cybercrimes which states: "Shall be punished by the imprisonment and fine not less than five hundred thousand dirhams and not in excess of two million dirhams or either of these two penalties whoever forges, counterfeits or reproduces a credit card or debit card or any other electronic payment method by using any information technology means or computer program. Shall be punished by the same penalty whoever uses, without authorisation, a credit or electronic card or debit card or any other electronic payment method aiming to obtain, whether for himself or for others, the funds or properties of others or benefit from the services provided by third parties." 

Rules vary from emirate to emirate 

The tenancy contract of my two bedroom flat is due for renewal and watchman told me landlord will levy maintenance charge this year. I have been living in the apartment for almost two years. The watchman also said the parking charge will be increased and tenants have to pay an annual fee of Dh500 as commission to the real estate company. I paid this in the first year. I don't understand why I have to pay commission for the same flat. Is this legal? 

Pursuant to your question, you have not mentioned the emirate where your apartment is situated. The dispute resolution regulations between landlord and tenant may vary from one emirate to another in the UAE.

The tenancy matters in Dubai are regulated by Law Number 26 of 2007, as amended by Law Number 33 of 2008 (the "Dubai Tenancy Law). In Abu Dhabi, tenancy matters are regulated by Law Number 20 of 2006 (Abu Dhabi Tenancy Law). In Sharjah, tenancy matters are regulated by Law Number 6 of 2001, as subsequently amended from time to time (the "Sharjah Rental Law"). In Ajman, such matters are regulated by Emiri Decree Number 3 of 2009 (the "Ajman Rental Law").

The landlord or the real estate company who is operating the building on behalf of the landlord can only demand new maintenance charges and increase in parking charges if the tenancy contract allows for such increase during the tenancy period or upon renewal of the tenancy contract.

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If you are a Dubai resident, you may refer to the rental calculator provided on the website of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) to understand the amount of the rent that may be increased.

In Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, it is learnt that the rents of leased properties may not be increased before the completion of three years of lease of the property. In Ajman, it is learnt that rental hikes are allowed once in three years after the lease period of the property expires and both landlord and tenant agree to renew the tenancy contract.

There are no specific provisions in the applicable laws of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman, which state the real estate company are entitled to charge commission on annual basis or on renewal of the tenancy contract. However, you may approach the respective authority in the emirate where your apartment is located for further advise.

By Ashish Mehta 

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