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Gardaí warn of increase in cyber fraud

The combined number of phishing, vishing and smishing frauds reported in Ireland during 2020 increased by 80 per cent over the year previous.

According to An Garda Síochána, the value of reported cyber crimes last year is estimated to be over €640,000, with as much as €53,000 stolen in one case alone.

Forty-five incidents of phishing (phone call), vishing (email) and smishing (text) frauds were reported in the first week of February 2021, according to Gardaí. This compares to 13 for the same period in 2020 and 2019.

This week (March 8-12) is ‘Fraud Week’, and An Garda Síochána is advising members of the public to be aware of these various frauds.

The most prevalent types are purporting to be from your bank, or other financial institution, where you are invited to click a link, which brings you to a cloned website, subsequently looking for your pin.

Other personal data may be asked for, such as an address, date of birth, or PPS number.

Gardaí say Brexit and the pandemic has added a new dimension also, as the business model of the fraudster changes with the social environment.

The increase in online shopping and deliveries has also created greater opportunities for fraudsters, Gardaí add.

The Advice from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) is:

  • 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 also advise people not to respond to such texts, to make screenshots of the texts received and delete them. Furthermore, you should report it to the bank or relevant company and local Garda station.