Protect Yourself Against Financial Scams Ireland

by | Oct 4, 2021 | Investment Advice

Financial Scams come in many different disguises. So, it’s important to know the warning signs to look out for and what to do if you have, or think, you’ve been targeted.

We see and heard about scams regularly nowadays, not just in the big cities but in wee Donegal as well, nearly every week in the local and national news there is reports of some scam or other doing the rounds, and it is a regular feature on Highland Radio.

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.

Here are some of the most common types of fraud you should be aware of:

  • Identity theft leading to credit, bank, or loan fraud.
  • Advance fee fraud.
  • Cashier’s check and fake check fraud.
  • Tax refund fraud and “ghost” tax preparers.
  • Fraudulent charities.
  • Credit card fraud.
  • Financial account takeovers
Financial Scams Ireland


Practice safe habits with your wallet

So how can we help protect ourselves.
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.

Financial Scams Ireland
protection-against-financial-scams-ireland-advice-first-donegal

 … 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.

Financial Services firms in Ireland are regulated by the Central Bank.
If you are in anyway suspicious about a call, person or company, contact the Central Bank or check their registers.

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Examples of Financial Scams

Phishing

This is an email scam where you appear to get a message from a legitimate source, such as your bank, Revenue, PayPal, Apple or Amazon.
The message will encourage you to click a link and log into your account, normally by telling you your account has been locked or there’s a large transfer of money.
In reality, the link in the email goes to a fake website which collects your information.
Another version of this scam involves an email attachment – perhaps a coupon or form you need to fill in – which is in fact a computer virus.

How to spot it
There are two main ways to spot a phishing scam:

  • Look at how you’re addressed in the email. Scammers will use a general greeting such as Dear Sir, Dear Madam or Dear Customer. Legitimate emails will use your name.
  • The email address the message has been sent from. Open the email and expand the pane at the top of the message and look at the email it was sent from. If it’s a real message, it will come from a recognisable address – such as ‘noreply @ bank.com’. Scammers won’t be able to send messages from a real domain name. So, the email addresses will be filled in with random letters or numbers, such as ‘noreply @ 1234.bank.com’, or have deliberate spelling mistakes.

What to do
Never click the links in a suspicious email. If you think there might be a legitimate problem with an account, go to the website directly and log in. This way, you’ll never be caught out by a fake website. Most organisations, have an email address you can forward these emails on to, which helps them combat scams.

Vishing

This is phone call where the scammers pretend to be from your bank, or even a government agency. During the phone call, the fraudsters will attempt to get you to reveal your personal details.

How to spot it
It’s very difficult to spot. The big tip-off is that the caller will be desperately trying to get you to reveal your information, which no legitimate caller would ask you to do.

What to do
If you’re sure the call is fraudulent, just hang up the phone.
If you’re not sure, hang up the phone and call your bank on the number on your debit or credit card.
This means you can be sure you’re going to the right people. And if there is a problem, they can tell you about it.But be careful. Scammers can hijack your phone line. So, when you hang up, wait a few minutes before calling your bank etc

Investment scams

This is generally a phone-based scam. Although you might be targeted in other ways, such as email or people coming to your house.Although investment scams vary, the principle remains the same. You’re encouraged to hand over money to invest in a company or product, which doesn’t exist.

How to spot it
It can be quite difficult. Many of the companies the scammers are calling from or trying to get you to invest in can look legitimate – with websites, social media profiles and testimonials.
See if the investor is regulated by checking the Central Banks Register.
Check to see if the company they work with is registered with CRO Homepage, for Ireland or the equivalent if the proposed investment is based out side Ireland.

It’s unlikely a company will contact you out of the blue about an investment opportunity. So, if you get an unexpected phone call, it’s best to ignore it.
A big warning sign should be if you’re told an investment offers a high rate of return with little risk. If it sounds to good to be true, then it most likely is to good to be true.

What to do
Report Scams to the Central Bank of Ireland Central Bank of Ireland Issues Warning on Unauthorised Firm –  Loan To Bank

Pension Scams

Since the pension legistation changes, retirees are able to access large sums of money from pension pots.
An unfortunate side-effect has been that this group is now being targeted by scammers because they can potentially access large amounts of cash.
Pension scams will usually follow a similar path to investment scams, with contact normally being made by telephone.

How to spot it
Warning signs are similar to those for investment scams.
Unsolicited phone calls, or any unrequested contact, should be treated as suspicious. Anything involving high returns with low risk should ring alarm bells.
See if the person contacting you is regulated by checking the Central Bank’s Register.

Check to see if the company they they are working with is register with CRO Homepage, for Ireland or the equivalent if the proposed investment is based outside Ireland.

What to do
Report Scams to the Central Bank of Ireland Central Bank of Ireland Issues Warning on Unauthorised Firm –  Loan To Bank

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