Warning to consumers as fraud levels continue to rise
Daragh Cassidy
Head Writer

Consumers urged to remain vigilant as levels of fraud, in particular around so-called smishing, continue to increase.

A new report by FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), shows that fraud continues to be an ever-growing problem for banks and businesses. 

According to the report, fraudsters stole nearly €85 million through frauds and scams in 2022, an increase of almost 9% on 2021.

Most of the increase was driven by online card fraud or ‘card not present’ fraud where a criminal uses the victim’s compromised card information to make an online purchase. This type of fraud rose by 24% to €27.1m last year.

The report also highlights the continued rise in the value of unauthorised electronic transfers (primarily payments through mobile and online banking) which accounted for almost 39% of fraud losses in 2022 at €32.8m.

However there was a 19% decrease in authorised push payment (APP) fraud transactions in 2022 compared to 2021, and APP fraud losses dropped by 41% to €9.9m, the lowest value since the data became available in 2019.

APP fraud can happen when a scammer tricks a consumer into sending money directly from their account to an account which the criminal controls. In other words the consumer has technically authorised the payment. Examples of this include investment scams such as fake cryptocurrency schemes or romance, holiday or accommodation scams. According to the BPFI, the decrease in this type of fraud might be attributed to increased consumer awareness or a post-Covid shift, as we have gradually returned to meeting in-person with decreased dependency on online communication.

Text messaging scams

The report comes as FraudSMART warns consumers to be on high alert as text message fraud, known as smishing, continues to become more prevalent.

This type of fraud is now the dominant channel for fraud attempts according to FraudSMART, with 1 in 2 adults having received fraudulent text message over the past 12 months. These text messages, which can purport to come from a range of businesses and government agencies, often include a link and sense of urgency requiring immediate action.

What to do if you receive a suspicious text message?

  • Do not respond to any messages, whether it's purporting to be from your bank, eFlow, the HSE, a parcel delivery service or any other company, with personal information. A bank will never text, email or phone you looking for personal information.
  • Never give away security details such as PINs or passwords to anyone.
  • Do not click on any links in the text messages, instead log into your service provider account directly through the official website or app.
  • Never use contact details from a text message, always independently verify.
  • A text message, even if it pops up under the same thread as a genuine message from your bank, may not be real. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if something goes wrong. Sometimes people who have given their bank details to a fraudster keep that fact to themselves out of embarrassment. If you have shared your bank details and realise that it is a scam, report it to your bank and the Gardaí as soon as possible.

Also, remember that scammers have technology that can make it look like the number they're calling you from is a legitimate number. In other words they can easily copy your bank or insurance company's customer service number.

If in ANY doubt about a call, hang up and call back yourself. 

Commenting on how consumers can stay alert to text message fraud, Niamh Davenport, Head of Financial Crime, at BPFI said: "The truth is any of us can fall victim to fraudsters. Frauds and scams are becoming increasingly more complex and credible and are often undertaken by criminal gangs who run large-scale operations. Banks are using a range of measures such as encryption and continuous fraud monitoring to protect their customers and ensure every-day payments can be made securely, but fraudsters are increasingly targeting businesses and consumers directly through online channels including emails and social media or by phone, so it is important for us all to know how to protect ourselves.”

More info

Consumers can also access a wealth of other advice on how to avoid fraud by visiting www.FraudSMART.ie and signing up for email alerts on current risks and trends.

And here's on our own guide on how to avoid banking and insurance scams.

We also have an in-depth guide on how to shop online safely and avoid getting scammed.