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Businesses warned of new payroll scam targeting employee salaries during busy Christmas season

The Banking and Payment Federation Ireland also warned of scam invoices being sent to businesses.

BUSINESSES ARE BEING warned to be on the lookout for new payroll and invoicing scams during the busy festive season. 

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) issued the alert with a warning that fraudsters are trying to catch businesses off guard during the busy period. 

Olivia Buckley, head of the BPFI’s FraudSMART programme said: “December is a particularly busy period for many businesses with high volumes of transactions and payments being made to meet Christmas and year-end deadlines.

“Businesses need to be highly alert to fraudsters who are working to catch businesses off guard and defraud them by way of sophisticated scams.

Buckley explained that payroll scams are on the rise and fraudsters are targeting HR and payroll departments to defraud employee wages and salaries. 

“By hacking or accessing the email account of an employee, fraudsters can send what appear to be genuine emails to HR or payroll department requesting that wages or salaries be paid into a new bank account. 

“[We're] urging businesses to verify all such emails with their employees verbally in advance of making any changes to payroll details,” Buckley said. 

The federation’s FraudSMART programme is a fraud awareness initiative which aims to raise consumer and business awareness of the latest financial fraud activity and trends. 

Last month, gardaí also launched a campaign to warn consumers to be on the lookout for fraudsters and scams ahead of the Christmas period.

Gardaí urged members of the public “to be extremely cautious around text and online loan scams which they say are on the rise”.

One scam sees people receiving a text claiming to be from a financial institution and asked for personal details. Gardaí said members of the public are being urged to check directly with their bank if they receive these types of messages. 

Another scam, which the BPFI has also warned about, involves invoice re-direct fraud where businesses are sent fake invoices claiming to be from a company or supplier with whom they are doing business with. 

The federation is emphasising that SMEs are particularly vulnerable to this type of scam. 

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