Don’t Get Scammed

Alarming new figures from the National Consumer Agency (NCA) show that there’s been a large increase in the number of calls to scam related helplines particularly involving PC phishing.There have been 835 such calls in the last 12 months to a national helpline, a total that will increase as ruthless scammers target consumers over the Christmas period.

Targeting the public through phone calls, emails and house calls these criminals prey on the most vulnerable and often return to con those who they have duped before.

The majority (44%) of scams related to PC phishing scams, where a consumer is contacted by a scammer. The scammer 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 consumerís computer to install malicious software that would capture sensitive data, such as online banking details or they may request the consumerís credit card details in order to fix the non-existent problem. Other types of scams that have been reported to the NCAís helpline include unsolicited home repair and fake lottery scams. Karen OíLeary, Director, Public Awareness and Financial Education Division of the NCA remarked, ìScammers 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.” Consumers are urged 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. Reputable organisations will never contact you and ask you to verify personal details such as your PIN over the phone.

“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.” O’Leary adds.

The NCA has information for consumers on in relation to scams, including how scammers scam you and what to avoid. Consumers can also contact the NCA on the consumer helpline on 1890 432 432.

By Rupert Heather