BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
MY bank account was hacked last week! I noticed a sum of money was sent to an online delivery company to deliver from a restaurant in Dublin to an address in Dublin – a nominal amount – at 5.15 pm last Friday.
I called, or should I say logged on to, the delivery service chat app and I have to say they could not have been more unhelpful if they tried. Nothing they could do, no they will not be refunding me my money, call the police – I was on my own.
Seemingly, if I had not noticed the transaction further ever increasingly larger amounts could have been debited over time from my account. On calling AIB fraud department, I was informed my AIB card had been compromised through the Apple Pay account on my phone. They could see what had happened and my card was immediately cancelled. A new card and pin would be sent on in five or so days. The stolen money was returned to my account within days. They were so efficient! But I wonder what would have happened if I had not copped the transaction?
Fraud cases have been on the rise for the last few years. Fraudsters continually develop sophisticated scams which seek to gain the trust of unsuspecting individuals, while appearing as legitimate service providers.
With the increase in cashless transactions people are not as aware of their spending habits. It is so important to be alert and aware. If you think you are the victim of a scam or fraud immediately inform your bank and freeze or cancel your card. As you try to retrace your recent card usage remember that card skimming may have occurred weeks even months previously before any unlawful transactions are carried out on your account.
Be very vigilant. Here are five of the most common frauds:
Payment Card Fraud – As outlined above. Always keep your card safe. Check your bank statement regularly. If your card is lost or stolen or there are unusual transactions on your statement report it to your bank immediately. Cancel the card and when your new card arrives sign it and cut up the old card. Do not write your PIN down on the card, or keep it with your card! Really? Yes really! Do not give your PIN to anyone. Never let your card out of your sight when making a purchase.
Invoice Fraud – A criminal contacts a firm pretending to be a supplier that already conducts business with the company. They request that bank account details be changed. Then the next time an invoice arrives from the legitimate supplier its paid into the criminals’ account. This type of theft will not be noticed until a reminder invoice is received from the legitimate supplier. The business loses money on the double as they still have an outstanding invoice to pay to the legitimate supplier. Staff training is essential. Companies should have clear policies and procedures in place. For example, always call the suppliers to verify whether the request is correct. Never respond directly by using the contact details contained in the email. Use an independent means of contact.
Phishing – A seemingly reputable company contacts you by email. You open the mail. You clink on the link. Malicious software (malware) is downloaded onto your machine. This allows whomever to track your online activity and identify personal or financial information for fraudulent purposes. Never open or respond to unsolicited emails looking for personal, financial or security advice. Never open attachments that you cannot verify.
Phone Fraud – This involves criminals contacting you by phone (vishing) or by text (smishing) pretending to be your bank, credit card issuer, utility company etc. They try to trick you into giving personal, banking or security information for a myriad of reasons. Always say NO! Banks etc. never, ever ask for financial details over the phone, by email or text.
Advance Fee Fraud – Duping people to make advance or upfront payments for goods or services that never materialise. You could be asked as a would-be tenant to pay a fee to hold a property you want to rent but it doesn’t exist. An online relationship is formed with one intent only to ask you for money for sick relatives or to come and visit you and you never hear from them again. You buy tickets for an event, you pay, and the tickets never materialise.
On and on it goes. Remember always the old adage, “If it seems too good to be true it probably is.”
Tel: 086 8362633