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FraudSMART urges customers to protect their banking details in light of increase in sophisticated SMS ‘smishing’ attacks

Tuesday 11 August 2020 – As a result of recent increases in the level of smishing activity targeted towards Irish consumers, FraudSMART is issuing this important reminder to be wary of unsolicited text messages claiming to be from your bank.

Bank customers are being targeted by scammers through an ongoing smishing attack which contacts customers via a fraudulent text message purporting to be from their bank. These text messages, which may appear to come through a legitimate bank text message thread, direct customers towards a bogus website where they are asked to input personal or security information. The criminals then use that information to transfer funds from your accounts.

The messages often attempt to alarm you, claiming that urgent action is needed or it will have negative consequences. Smishing scams have increased in frequency and sophistication during the Covid-19 period, with scammers targeting customers as they spend larger amounts of time on their computer or phone.

Brian Hayes, CEO at Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, offers the following advice to consumers: “Always be wary of any unexpected calls or texts which appear to be from your bank, especially those asking for personal or security details. Fraudsters can be very convincing but don’t be afraid to take your time and make the relevant checks. If in doubt you should contact your bank directly to check if the communication is legitimate.”

 

What is Smishing?

Smishing (a combination of the words SMS and Phishing) is a scam where fraudsters send fraudulent text messages to customers, claiming to be from a reputable organisation such as a bank, card issuer or other service provider.

The message will typically ask you to click on a link to a website or to call a phone number in order to “verify”, “update” or to “reactivate” your account. The link leads to a bogus website where the criminal will attempt to get you to disclose personal, financial or security information, which will then be used to steal your money.

Similar to phishing, the messages often attempt to alarm you, claiming that urgent action is needed or it will have negative consequences.

 

FraudSMART’s Key Advice:

  1. Do not respond to unsolicited text / SMS messages before independently validating that it is who it says it is from. You can do this by:
    • Looking up the phone number on the back of your bank card and contact them directly to validate
    • Do not use a phone number given to you in the text (this could be a fake number)
  2. Do not click on a link or attachment from unsolicited emails or text messages.
  3. Do not be rushed. Take your time and make the appropriate checks.
  4. Never give away personal information, bank account details or security details such as your PIN or online password to anyone.
  5. If you think you might have responded to a smishing text message please contact your bank immediately.

 

For more information, contact Russell Bryce, Head of Public Policy Engagement and Research at 085 101 9444 or at russell.bryce@bpfi.ie