Scams – what to watch out for

Top Tip

There is currently a scam where a person will call or text you pretending to be from the HSE and ask a number of questions about your PPS number and/or living situation. The HSE will not call you and ask for these details, the first point of contact for vaccines is your local GP and you should only discuss this with them.

A scam is a scheme or plan to try and con you out of your money or personal information such as bank account or card details, PIN numbers, internet banking login or your name, address, date of birth etc.

Scams can take many different forms such as phishing, premium-rate phone calls, pyramid schemes and more but there are some general rules you can follow to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.

golden rules
  • If something sounds too good to be true it usually is.
  • If someone contacts you out of the blue and asks you to give or confirm your personal, bank or debit/credit card details be very wary. If they claim to be from your bank hang up and call your bank back using a number from their website or the  back of your bank card.
  • Don’t click on a link in an email or social media message that looks out of the ordinary even if it comes from a friend or family member’s account as their account may have been hacked.
  • If you receive an email or message with a link that looks like it came from an official government department, utility provider, bank etc. be careful as it could be fake. Hover your mouse icon over the link to see where it is directing you to and click on the sender’s details to see if the email address looks correct.
  • When using your cards in ATMs or shops always make sure to cover the keypad, tap the card yourself if making a contactless payment and never give anyone your PIN.
  • If you are offered an investment deal always make sure the firm is authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland. You can also check their list of unauthorised firms to make sure a warning notice has not been issued about them. Be especially careful about investments in crypto-currencies as these are not regulated in Ireland.
  • Fraudsters sell lists of people who have fallen for scams on to other scammers, these are sometimes called ‘suckers lists’. Scammers have been known to contact known victims of scams claiming to be able to help them get their money back for a fee.
  • If you are buying or selling something online try not to deal in payments of cash or non-bank money transfers. If making a transfer try and make sure it is from one bank to another as this makes it easier to trace. A bank draft is safer than a cheque as drafts must be paid for upfront and there is less chance of them being forged or that they will bounce.
  • If you are selling something and the buyer gives you more money than you asked for when paying by cheque or transfer beware. This is a scam. You will be asked to refund the extra money and then the cheque will bounce.
top tip
There are some websites that charge consumers for a service that is usually free or charge them more than the normal rate by setting up misleading websites. Some examples of these are for driving tests, the European Health Insurance Card and the ESTA Visa for travelling to the United States.

When applying for a service like this take some time and make sure you are using the official website. Non-official websites can charge many times more than the usual fee, which you may not even know about until you have paid.

Caught out by a scam?

If you think you may have fallen victim to a scam or fraud and have given someone your bank or credit card details contact your bank or card issuer immediately so they can advise you and if necessary put a hold on your account, cancel your cards or cheques or carry out additional security when issuing payments and transfers from your account. You should also report it to your local Garda station.

Last updated on 28 January 2021

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