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Gardaí issue warning to public after marked increase in text message scams

A total of 45 such scams were recorded in the first week of February compared with just 13 in the same period last year and in 2019.

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GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED of a marked increase in text, email and phone call scams in February this year with the most common scam purporting to be from your bank. 

The messages, like many smishing scams, contain links which bring a person to a cloned website and then ask for your pin. 

A total of 45 such scams were recorded in the first week of February, Gardaí said, compared with just 13 in the same period last year and in 2019. 

Overall there was an 80% increase in reported crimes relating to fraudulent text messages in 2020 with over €640,000 stolen. 

Of the 45 cases in February this year, 19 people targeted were under the age of 50 and 26 people were over 50. 

The most prevalent types of these fraudulent message purport to be from your bank or other financial institutions, where you are invited to click a link which then brings you to a cloned website and asks for your pin. 

Fraudsters may also seek other personal data like a person’s address, date of birth and PPS numbers. 

Gardaí said that Brexit and the pandemic have added a new dimension as the “business model of the fraudster changes with the social environment.”

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The increase in online shopping and deliveries has also create greater opportunities for fraudsters. 

Gardaí have issued the following advice today:

  • 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.

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