Jaw-dropping 370% rise in scam calls, texts and emails in Ireland in 2021
Received a scam phone call, text or email allegedly from a reputable organisation last year? It's no wonder given these figures...
Gardaí have issued a warning to the public following a stark rise in fraud cases across Ireland in 2021.
Last year saw an increase of 111% in overall fraud instances when compared with 2020, alongside a 370% increase in fraud-related crimes made up of vishing (fraud phone calls), smishing (fraud texts) and phishing (fraud emails).
In response, An Garda Síochána is asking members of the public to never give away personal data such as home addresses, bank account details, PIN details, credit card numbers, passwords, one-time codes, PPS numbers and Eircodes.
People are also asked to be wary of unsolicited phone calls, emails and text messages – and not to click any related links in such instances.
The most prevalent frauds are purporting to be from an individual's bank or other financial institution, where the victim is invited to click a link that brings them to a cloned website, subsequently requesting their PIN.
A case study highlighted by Gardaí concerns a fraudulent bank text alert scam in May of 2020 that saw €10,000 removed from the account of the injured party in question.
Following a quick report of the fraud, Gardaí were able to work with the bank and reimburse the entire amount.
A subsequent investigation led to a conviction in January of 2022.
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.
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.