The amount of phone scams seem to be on the increase with An Garda Síochána warning everyone to be vigilent. But there are other scams that you should be aware of and know how to protect yourself.
There are many ways that you can fall victim to a scam or fraud. The best defence is to be on your guard. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!
Here are some general tips on what to watch out for:
- Never give your personal, bank or credit card details to someone you have never heard of before. Remember, banks, credit card companies, utility companies and your internet provider already have your personal details if you are a customer and they would not ask you to confirm them.
- Be aware of the telphone number trying to reach you. If you don’t know the number then the simplest thing to do is not to answer it. If it is a number from another country or starts with 15 then they could be premiom rate numbers and can cost you a lot of money.
- Never click on links within emails that you feel a friend or acquaintance wouldn’t normally send or that you are unfamiliar with. Also be very wary of clicking on links in emails that come from an email address that you don’t recognise. These links could also be a virus and damage your computer of phone.
- Think twice before responding to a friend’s message requesting money. It could be a scam with someone hacking into your friend’s email or social media account. The message will appear to be from your friend saying they are abroad, have lost their money and bank cards or they have been stolen and they need you to wire money to them.
- Use your bank and credit cards safely and securely. Scammers can copy your card in just a few seconds – this is known as “skimming”. Never let your cards out of your sight and never give anyone your PIN number. Always cover the keypad when entering you PIN.
- If you are offered an investment deal, always check that the firm is authorised on the Central Bank’s registers website. You should also check the Central Bank’s list of unauthorised firms to make sure a warning notice has not been issued about them.
- Scammers sell lists of people who have responded to scams on to other scammers. These lists are called “suckers lists” and if your details are on them you will be targeted again and again.
- Take care when buying or selling goods online. Never accept large sums of cash, cheques, or money transfers as payment. If you are selling something valuable like a car, ask the buyer to get you a draft from their bank or to transfer the money to your bank account. A draft will guarantee you receive the money immediately at your bank, and if a buyer refuses to pay by draft or transfer, be suspicious.
- If you are putting an item for sale in the local newspaper or on a website, for example your car, never accept a cheque or draft for an amount over the asking price. This is a scam. You will typically be asked to refund the amount over the asking price after you deposit the cheque or draft. The scammer will claim it was a mistake or for shipping expenses. The cheque will inevitably bounce and you will lose the money the money you have “refunded”.
If you think you have been the victim of a scam or fraud and you have given someone your bank account or credit card information, inform your bank or credit card company immediately so they can tell you what action they need to take. This might include putting a stop to your account, cancelling your credit or debit card or stopping a transaction from going through your account.
You should also contact your local Garda station immediately.