An Garda Síochána in association with the FraudSMART, a fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), are advising consumers to be on the alert to a phone scam in which fraudsters claim to be calling from utility companies on the pretence that there are issues with the customer’s broadband service.
• A utility company: e.g. telephone/mobile phone provider, broadband provider or software company calls offering to “fix” computer or broadband problems. The caller will attempt to trick you into revealing your banking or card details and providing codes from your card reader to access your online banking and make fraudulent payments.
• You may be asked to allow the caller to take remote control of your computer to “assist” you, however this could allow the fraudster to show you fraudulent screens.
• The callers are professional and will be able to transfer you to their “supervisor” should you request this. They sound genuine.
Detective Superintendent Gerard Walsh of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau gave the following advice “If you have received a suspicious call, hang up and phone the company the person is purporting to be from directly yourself. Do not use a number given to you by the caller and make sure you hear a dial tone before making the call. If you are concerned that you may have fallen victim to a scam contact your local Garda Station and also your bank.”
Niamh Davenport, who leads the BPFI FraudSMART programme, offers the following advice to consumers: “Always be wary of any unexpected calls or texts especially those asking for personal details or payments. Never give your financial or personal information in order to release money, refund fees, or access to your computer. Fraudsters are very convincing but don’t be afraid to take the time to make the relevant checks. The caller will try to rush you or make you feel foolish and negligent if you don’t follow their instructions, but this is all designed to panic you into doing something you wouldn’t otherwise do.”
• Never give out personal information until you have checked that the caller is a genuine representative of the organisation they claim to be from. Advise the caller you will call them back once you have checked their identity. You can do this by:
• Looking up the organisation’s phone number using a phone book or website and calling the number yourself directly. Make sure you hear a dial tone before you dial. Do not use a number the caller has given to you as this could be a fake number.
• Don’t assume you can trust caller ID. Fraudsters can spoof a number, so it looks like they are calling from a particular company or bank, even when they are not.
• Remember it takes two people to terminate a landline phone call, you can use a different phone line to independently check the caller’s identity or at least make sure you hear a dial tone before you call anyone.
• Fraudsters may have basic information about you in their possession (e.g. name, address etc), do not assume the caller is genuine because they have this information. They source this information from publicly available information e.g. social media, phone books, websites
• Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Take your time and do the relevant checks.