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Gardaí warn public over text message scam seeking to gain personal bank details

People are being asked to contact their bank immediately if they believe they have been scammed.

Image: Shutterstock/Preto Perola

AN GARDA SÍOCHÁNA are warning the public to be vigilant of an ongoing text message scam focused on gaining access to personal bank accounts. 

Victims of the text message or ‘smishing’ scam receive a text appearing to be from their bank asking them to confirm personal details or click on links to unfreeze their accounts. 

Gardaí at the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) have said the focus of the criminals in the latest scam is to obtain personal information that will allow them to steal money from bank accounts. 

“Banks and other financial entities will never make unsolicited contact with individuals asking for personal details, account numbers, 4-digit pin number or passwords,” Detective Chief Superintendent Patrick Lordan of GNECB said.

He warned that “people receiving unsolicited communications looking for these personal details should not reply to text messages, emails or other communications”. 

“They should contact their bank independently to check on the validity of the communications they have received before taking any action,” he said. 

Some key details of the scam include: 

  • The message will imitate a text from your bank. 
  • The message will typically ask you to click on a link to a website to “verify”, “update” or to “reactivate” your account. 
  • It may ask you to reply to the text message with personal or financial information or to click on a link to a website. 
  • If it includes a link, the website is a fake one. The website will then attempt to get you to disclose personal or financial information. If clicked on, it could download dangerous software known as malware to your computer or mobile device. 
  • Often the text will create a sense of urgency to make you act without thinking. 

Some warning signs of the scam are: 

  • The text message is unsolicited. 
  • The text message will always seek information that allows access to bank accounts.
  • The text will instruct the individual to go to a website or make a phone call to a specified number. 
  • It will create a fear that if the customer does not take action requested in the text, that their account will be compromised. 
  • The text will emphasise the need for urgent action by the recipient of the text. 

Gardaí warned that a text from your bank will not ask you for any personal information. 

People are being asked to never respond to a text message that requests a 4-digit card pin, online banking details or any other password. 

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People are also being asked not to respond to unsolicited text messages before independently validating who the text appears to be from. 

Gardaí warned not to click on a link, attachment or image that people may receive in an unsolicited text without first verifying it. 

Niamh Davenport, who leads the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland FraudSMART programme said: “Always be wary of any unexpected calls or texts which appear to be your bank, especially those asking for personal details or payments. 

Your bank will never ask for your personal information so never give your financial or personal information in order to release money, refund feeds or access your computer. 
Fraudsters are very convincing but don’t be afraid to take the time to make the relevant checks. 

“The scammer will try to rush you, but this is all designed to panic you into doing something you wouldn’t otherwise.”

People are being asked to contact their bank immediately if they believe they have responded to a smishing text message. 

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