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Consumer agency urges vigilance against scams

The National Consumer Agency has said it received 835 scam-related queries in the last 12 months, most related to ‘PC phishing’

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Image: Sunday Alamba/AP/Press Association Images

CONSUMERS HAVE BEEN urged to be vigilant after the National Consumer Agency received nearly 900 queries about scams over a 12 month period.

The NCA helpline received 835 scam-related queries in the past 12 months, leading to the agency encouraging people to “remain vigilant about scams”.

It said that the majority of scams related to PC phishing scams:

The scammer [who calls the consumer] claims to be from a well-known technology company, advising the consumer that they have identified a problem with their computer. The scammer then tries to gain access to the consumer’s computer to install malicious software that would capture sensitive data, such as online banking details or they may request the consumer’s credit card details in order to fix the non-existent problem.

Other scams that were reported to the NCA included unsolicited home repair and fake lottery scams.

Four of the scammers contacted the callers to the NCA at their doorstep, while the majority (679) contacted them over the phone. Other means of contact were through a website (56), email (40), and the post (37).

Trustworthy

Karen O’Leary, director of the public awareness and financial education division of the NCA, said:

Scammers can come across as authoritative, trustworthy people who want to help or reward you.  It is sometimes harder to recognise a scammer if you are dealing with them over the phone or if they use an e-mail to contact you.

She added that the NCA would always urge consumers to be vigilant and never give any personal details, such as their PIN number to a caller, even if they claim to be calling from your bank and appear helpful.

She added that the reason phone scams are common is because scammers can easily get access to your phone number through an online phonebook from anywhere in the world, if your number is listed, or through luck by using randomly-dialed numbers.

If you are unsure as to whether the person contacting you is genuine, tell the caller you will hang up and call them back. Official numbers are always available from a phone book or from letters you have received from providers that you deal with.
If you or someone you know is aware of a scam, you can contact the NCA to tell us about it and we can warn other consumers. If you have been the victim of a scam, contact the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigations or your local Garda station immediately.

The NCA has information for consumers on nca.ie in relation to scams and a consumer helpline on 1890 432 432.

Read: Man jailed for cheating grandmother out of £1 million lottery win>

Read: Revenue warns internet users over fake email ‘tax refund’ scam>

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