Are you scam savvy?

October 19, 2015

We all like to think that we would know if someone was trying to trick us, but all it takes is for someone to catch you off guard with something that appears timely and genuine. When presented with an offer that appears too good to be true, there are questions you can ask yourself to avoid being scammed:

1)      How up to date are you on current scams?

A good way to protect yourself from being scammed is to know what scams are currently out there and to remember that there are always new variations of existing scams appearing. Recently a number of new scams have emerged such as the vishing scam. This is a cold call scam, where a person calls your phone pretending to be a Garda, from your bank, or from another trusted organisation, such as a Government department. They ring and tell you that you are a victim of fraud, and ask for your personal and financial details. They may also ask you to transfer money to a ‘new’ safe account. Tricks are often used to gain your trust. For example, if they are pretending to call from a particular bank they may encourage you to call the bank back to verify the call is genuine. They then stay on the line, which can remain open for up to two minutes, so when you dial the new number, you are actually still on the line to the person who called you. Remember a bank, the Gardaí or any other reputable organisation would never ask you for your PIN, online banking password, your bank account details or to transfer money to another account. Check out the list of current scams now.

2)      Do you know what to watch out for?

There are many ways that you can fall victim to a scam or fraud. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Watch out for anyone who asks for your personal, bank or credit card details. If you are already a customer of a company they will have these details on file.  Be wary of emails you receive from email address you don’t recognise. Remember, scammers sell lists of people who have responded to scams on to other scammers, which could result in you being targeted multiple times.

3)      Do you know what a phishing scam is?

Phishing scams can happen through email, websites, instant messaging apps, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter or even over the phone. Scammers attempt to get personal details such as your bank account, credit card numbers, usernames and passwords from you. If they manage to trick you into handing over these details, they will then try to steal from you. There are a number of different types of phishing scams out there. One popular phishing scam is the PC related scam. This is when a scammer calls you claiming to be from a well-known IT company such as Microsoft. They ring claiming that your PC has a virus or has been hacked and then get you to download a file from a website so that they can gain access to your computer remotely to resolve the issue. This allows them to access to your personal details including financial information. In some cases they even ask for your credit card details to pay for their service!

4)      Are you aware of work-from-home scams?

The idea of working-from-home can be very attractive and there are a lot of work-from-home jobs advertised online. It’s important to be aware that some work-from-home schemes may actually be pyramid schemes. There are a number of other work-from-home scams out there such as envelope stuffing, making products and selling them back to the company, reshipping fraud and an “advance on your pay” scam. Even if you’re not looking for a job yourself, being aware of these  work-from-home scams may mean you can warn someone else who might get caught out by this type of offer.

5)      Do you know what to do if you come across a scam?

The first thing to do if you think you have been scammed is to contact your bank or credit card company and inform them of your concerns. The quicker you do this the better because they can tell you what action needs to be taken. This might include putting a stop to your account, cancelling your credit or debit card or stopping a transaction from going through your account. You should then inform the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation on (01) 6663777 or contact your local Garda station immediately. Also, tell us about the scam too or any scams your friends, families or colleagues have experienced or if you prefer share it on our Facebook page. Building awareness about scams helps to put a stop to them. If you were scammed somewhere else in Europe, tell the European Consumer Centre Ireland.

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