Protect Yourself Against Financial Scams Ireland
As if all of us and in particular the Health Service Executive (HSE) didn’t have enough to deal with as a result of the covid pandemic, the HSE suffered a very significant security breach in May this year, which took down most of their IT systems and exposed much of their data to prying eyes. The effects of the breach are still being felt months later, both in terms of their system capability and also the impact that it had on patient appointments and other outcomes.
It got us thinking about the risks that all of us face every day, with unfortunately many criminals trying to trick us out of our money. So we thought it useful to give you a few pointers on how you can stay safe and ensure no-one gets ill-gotten gains at your expense.
Practice safe habits with your wallet
For starters, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe. Of course we all know the dangers of walking around with a debit / credit card in our wallets, with the PIN number written down on a piece of paper too, in case we forget the number. If someone with bad intentions gets their hands on your wallet, they’re off and running with your money. You also need to ensure you have privacy when at an ATM machine and that no-one is looking over your shoulder as you punch in your PIN number. Then all they need to do is trick your card away from you.
… and with your phone and devices
When it comes to phones, we always encourage people to be very careful when answering phone calls where there is no caller ID. The safest route is to let it go to voicemail and then take your time to ensure the veracity of the call, before calling back. At least be very sceptical of any unusual requests on these calls. Unfortunately this is not enough on its own as criminals have got far more sophisticated, and now are using recognisable number formats. To keep yourself safe, if you don’t actually know and trust the person on the phone, be alert and very cautious.
Of course just hang up on the recorded messages supposedly from Revenue / Department of Social Protection informing you that you owe them money, or they owe you money. Trusted organisations will never contact you in this way and will never seek private data such as complete PIN numbers and passwords over the phone.
In relation to text messages and emails, if you don’t know the sender personally, don’t click any links and don’t open attachments. Ever. A quick phone call to the person or organisation (using a phone number you independently sourced) will validate the link or attachment. These links can give criminals visibility of your personal information and eventually access to your files… and potentially your bank account.
Be aware of emotional cons
These come in many guises. The offer of an investment opportunity with enormous returns – when it looks too good to be true, it usually is. Beware the sad story from someone you’ve just met who just needs a temporary loan to get their life back on track, or the person who showers you with romantic interest that turns into a short-term financial need. Their interest most often is solely in your bank account. And beware of unusual requests that could compromise you later, as these may be an attempt to extort money by blackmail.
We’re not saying that you should turn into an unemotional being! Just be wary with people you don’t know, if the conversation comes around to discussing money.
Of course through our advice, we seek to help you grow your wealth through wise and prudent investing. As you do this, maintain good awareness to keep yourself financially safe.