Public warned of imminent surge in bank account fraud scams
An impending gap in the market is likely to be exploited.
If you're reading this, there's a good chance you've been the victim of or at least managed to escape a scam or two in the past couple of years.
Scams are very much on the rise, you see, with An Garda Síochána recently reporting an estimated 370% increase in related calls, texts and emails recorded in Ireland across 2021.
Unfortunately, the practice doesn't seem to be dying down. A new warning from Bank of Ireland urges the public to be extra vigilant as the mass movement of bank accounts is set to accelerate, with Ulster Bank and KBC exiting the market. As such, a surge of fraudulent activity is anticipated.
Hundreds of thousands of current account customers will move their accounts in the coming months, along with changing individual direct debits and standing order payments, thus presenting a big opportunity for fraudsters to strike.
Bank of Ireland is reminding customers to independently verify messages or calls that request personal information or account details, or provide 'warnings' regarding the cancellation of important payments. Scammers are likely to present a sense of urgency in order to trick customers into giving away their details.
"We know that periods of major change or uncertainty create ideal conditions for fraudsters to operate," said Edel McDermott, Head of Group Fraud at Bank of Ireland.
"The rise in fraud recorded during Covid-19 and Brexit demonstrates this. The number of ‘phishing’ websites detected by our Fraud Prevention Team doubled in one month alone in 2021 and, at its peak, we saw 70 new fraudulent sites appearing per day.”
If you are a victim of any type of fraud, Gardaí encourage you to act quickly – change your passwords and PIN codes, report the issue to your financial institution, and notify the relevant authorities.
As for what you can do to avoid falling prey to such tactics? The advice from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) on vishing, smishing and phishing is as follows:
Vishing – Calls
- Be wary of cold calls received. Ask the caller their name, their phone number and if you are concerned hang up and ring your bank / service provider from a number advertised in a phone book, on your bill or from a Google search.
- Just because the number looks Irish does not mean it is – fraudsters use VOIP and spoofed numbers.
- Never act on advice received or instructions from a cold caller.
- Never give away personal data like bank account details, PIN numbers, credit card numbers, passwords, one time codes, PPS numbers or Eircodes.
- Never download any Apps as these allow the fraudster to take control of your device.
- Be aware that State bodies including the Revenue Commissioners will not ring you to advise that you are under investigation.
- Do not transfer money in any way.
- Before taking any action, seek advice from a trusted person.
Smishing – Texts
- Be wary of such texts even if they are contained within the thread of previous genuine texts from banks.
- Never click on links – by doing so you are accessing cloned websites.
- If you’re expecting a delivery and receive such a text, be very careful.
- Banking institutions will never send a text containing a link.
- An Garda Síochána advise people not to respond to such texts, to take screenshots of the texts received and delete them and to report it to the bank or relevant company and local Garda station.
Phishing – Emails
- Phishing emails can look official – make sure you are certain it’s legitimate before opening an attachment.
- Hover over any hyperlinks so you know where they lead to before you click (or go directly to the source).
- Beware of requests for personal or financial details or requests to reset passwords.
- Delete any suspicious emails, block the sender and don’t forward the email to anyone else.
- Don’t store passwords on your browser. If any of your passwords are compromised, it could lead to a chain of disasters and compromise all your accounts.
- Avoid using personal or untrusted removable devices (such as phones, tablets, iPods, SD Cards) on office systems.
- Beware of generic, impersonal greetings, such as "Dear Friend” or poor spelling and grammar.
- Check the displayed name against the actual email.
- Limit what you share online – cybercriminals use information you post online to learn how to gain your trust.
- Stay updated with security policies and best practices.
For further advice and information or to report a suspected fraud related crime, please contact your local Garda Station.