by Marian Duggan
With Black Friday approaching later this week, banks and the gardaí have warned people to be extra cautious against scammers.
“When an online bargain sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said an Ulster Bank spokesperson, while gardaí have warned against a plethora of text and online scams.
In a recent Black Friday fraud survey, the Ulster Bank found that online shoppers engage in risky behaviour despite thinking they have taken enough precautions.
“The Black Friday phenomenon is all about the chance to bag a bargain before a deadline.
“However, academic research shows that when faced with time pressures, we often make decisions that are more emotional and less analytical. Scammers are hoping that we will drop our guard so let’s make it as difficult as possible for them,” said cyber psychologist Ciarán McMahon, before reminding customers to pause before the final purchase click.
“Cybercrime is an increasingly sophisticated enterprise, but scammers have deadlines too. Consumers can slow them down by simply stopping to think: is this deal too good to be true?”
The survey’s respondents said they wouldn’t be too embarrassed to admit if they have been scammed so the bank is urging people who have suspicions or realise they have been defrauded to contact their branch.
Meanwhile, gardaí are alerting people to a variety of scams conning people out of funds. Bank fraud where victims receive a text/email or call appearing to be from their bank asking them for personal details or security information designed to get unlawful access to bank accounts is one of the latest scams. If you received one of these unsolicited messages or calls contact your back and check the validity of the request and the security of the funds in your account but do not use links received in the text or email and do not contact your bank with the telephone number supplied.
The public should also be aware of online loan scams where applicants will be asked to pay a fee before the loan is issued. No loan will be issued and the customer loses the fee they have paid.
“As we enter the Christmas period many people will be under financial pressure, These unlawful websites will be looking to take advantage of financially vulnerable people,” said a garda spokesperson.
Companies can also be targeted with invoice redirect fraud where a fake invoice or identifying a genuine invoice in the name of a supplier is sent looking for payment.