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Banking institutes warn customers to be 'extra vigilant' of Covid-19 online scams

Figures from the BPFI show €12m was scammed through card fraud alone last year.

BANKING INSTITUTIONS AND organisations have issued a warning to the public to be aware of fraudulent scams in operation in Ireland during the current Covid-19 health crisis. 

Bank of Ireland asked customers to be aware of a number of scams circulating on social media, via email, and over the phone. 

“With large numbers of people working remotely and more people generally conducting their daily business online, fraudsters may use this as an opportunity to pull off successful scams,” a statement said.

Bank of Ireland is urging customers to be wary of newly created fake websites, and not to respond to bogus SMS text messages seeking their personal details.

It said it is aware of WhatsApp messages offering banking advice, fraudulent websites shared across social media, and fake medical or charitable organisations asking for urgent money transfers.

Bank of Ireland also identified another scam involving requests for members of the public to dial a high cost number to receive financial advice from advice centres. 

“Bank of Ireland will never text a customer asking them to update or provide online banking information, and any customer receiving such texts should delete them from their mobile device immediately,” it said. 

Meanwhile, the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) today reported figures from across the banking sector which revealed that overall card fraud reached €12m in the first half of 2019.

Brian Hayes, CEO of the BPFI said: “The analysis indicates that about 80% of card fraud involved online shopping with the remainder taking place when using a card in store.

“This is a significant sum that highlights the needs for consumers to be extra careful and alert to scams of any kind, particularly in light of current developments in relation to Covid-19.”

Significant attempts

He also warned that there will be “significant attempts at fraudulent activity” during the Covid-19 crisis as criminals seek to exploit people at this vulnerable time. 

It is the same warning that was also recently issued by An Garda Síochana, who advised anyone who suspects they were a victim of fraudulent activity to contact gardaí directly. 

Hayes said: “We have already had warnings in relation to the new Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment with fraudsters posing as officials asking for financial details to process this payment.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of impersonation fraud we are expecting to see an increase in similar to what is happening in other jurisdictions including the UK.

The BPFI has issued a similar warning to that of Bank of Ireland, advising consumers to be aware of online and phone scams, both on social media and on on other internet platforms. 

They advised:

  • Beware of emails, online requests, and online advertisements offering Covid-19 related tests and products purporting to be vaccines or cures. 
  • Always independently check websites or dial the phone number of the company using their website.
  • Beware of unsolicited emails asking for personal details or asking you to click on a link. Do not engage – again pick up the phone or independently check the website of the company sending the email.
  • Never share or give away your credentials. You will never be asked for your credentials by your bank whether related to a payment or refunds.
  • Utility companies, government departments and Revenue will never ask you to reveal personal details over an email or text.
  • Do not make donations to charities without first checking authenticity.
  • Always double check with another person before transferring any money or buying any product
  • Check your bank account often for suspicious activity. 

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