This Fraud Awareness Week, Gardaí are warning the public about smishing/vishing/phishing scams in which criminals will try to fleece you out of your hard-earned cash.
In 2020, it is estimated that over €640,000 worth of crimes involving these scams were recorded, with €53,000 stolen in one case alone.
Of the 45 reported cases in February, 19 people under the age of 50 and 26 people over the age of 50 were targeted by scammers, with the oldest victim aged 88 years old.
Compared to the same period in 2019/2020, there were 13 cases - representing an 80% increase in reported crimes between 2019 and 2020.
Have you ever received a text (smishing), an email (vishing) or a phone call (phishing) allegedly from a reputable company or state agency asking you to click on a link?
- 'Phishing' is is a type of financial fraud where criminals defraud, dupe or mislead people by email. Phishing emails have risen in number and have got a lot more sophisticated.
- 'Vishing' is over the phone phishing where scammers will try to persuade people to share information by posing as bank staff or other financial service employees.
- 'Smishing' is SMS phishing where text messages are sent trying to encourage people to pay money out or click on suspicious links. Sometimes attackers try to get victims on the phone by sending a text message asking them to call a number, in order to persuade them further.
A Garda spokesperson said: "The most prevalent types are purporting to be from your bank, or other financial institution, where you are invited to click a link, which brings you to a cloned website, subsequently looking for your pin. They may also seek other personal data. Address, date of birth, pps numbers etc…
"Brexit and the Covid 19 pandemic has added a new dimension also, the business model of the fraudster changes with the social environment.
"The increase in online shopping and deliveries has also created greater opportunities for the fraudster."
The Advice from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) is:
• Never click on a link of an unsolicited text
• Never give away personal data like PIN number, card numbers, passwords, one time codes
• Banks would never request a customer return a card to the bank in such circumstances
• Be very wary of cold calls – just because the number looks Irish does not mean it is – fraudsters use VOIP numbers
• If you are concerned hang up and ring your bank/service provider from a number advertised in the phone book or on your bill
• If you are expecting a delivery and receive such a text, be very careful. Contact the delivery service
Gardaí would advise people not to respond to such texts, to make screenshots of the texts received and delete them and to report it to the bank or relevant company and local Garda station.