Victims of text message scams or ‘smishing’ were tricked out of an average of €1,700 during the first half of this year, according to new figures from FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).
These text messages scams have almost doubled in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year.
The figures also show that over the same period businesses were conned out of an average of €14,000 due to invoice fraud.
FraudSMART is urging consumers and business to be on high alert for impersonation type scams as thousands of bank customers prepare to move their bank accounts over the coming months due to the exit of Ulster Bank and KBC from the Irish market.
Customers are advised not to respond to messages with personal information, do not click on links without first verifying, and that a bank will never text or email looking for personal information. Customers are advised to contact their bank directly.
Niamh Davenport, Head of Financial BPFI and FraudSMART lead said: “For personal customers we expect fraudsters will use this account transition period to obtain personal information through the guise of a problem with a customer’s new account set-up or switch.
“We are warning consumers to be on the lookout for text messages that flag fraud on your bank account or impending cancelation of your salary, standing orders, or direct debits to utilities and which then go on to ask for personal information or account details.
“We are aware that fraudsters have recently started to follow up these texts with a phone call from a number that appears to be your bank.”
For businesses, Ms Davenport urged SMEs to be aware of invoice fraud.
“We are also issuing a serious warning to businesses who are particularly vulnerable in the current environment. With over 70,000 businesses due to move their accounts there is a greater threat than ever of invoice fraud the effects of which can be devastating particularly for SMEs.
“Already this year FraudSMART members have seen over 100 cases of invoice fraud with businesses suffering a average losses of €14,000 but which can range up to €50,000.
“Invoice fraud involves a fraudster notifying your company that supplier payment details have changed and providing alternative details in order to defraud you.
“The fraudster could be claiming to be from your company's genuine supplier, or even be posing as a member of your own firm. With so many businesses who will now be legitimately changing their account details, this provides the perfect opportunity for criminals to take advantage.”