Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

Be sus­pi­cious of any un­so­licited emails, texts or calls you re­ceive re­quest­ing fi­nan­cial or sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion — such as emails pur­port­ing to be from your bank, credit card com­pany, en­ergy provider, so­lic­i­tor, tax of­fice, or any com­pany you are a cus­tomer of. Be wary of re­quests to pay for some­thing us­ing itunes vouch­ers, as this is a tac­tic of­ten used by fraud­sters. Be care­ful about click­ing links, at­tach­ments or ban­ners in your email or on the in­ter­net if you’re not sure of their true ori­gin — as ma­li­cious soft­ware, known as ran­somware, could be down­loaded onto your com­puter if you do so.

“With ran­somware, fraud­sters of­ten tar­get se­nior man­age­ment within multi­na­tion­als or State bod­ies,” said Pa­trick D’arcy of Grant Thorn­ton. “If some­one falls for the trap, the ran­somware pro­vides the fraud­ster with ac­cess to all that in­di­vid­ual’s emails.” Should there be sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion in any of th­ese emails, the fraud­ster will have ac­cess to it. Be aware of, and care­ful about, the in­for­ma­tion you’re post­ing on var­i­ous so­cial me­dia sites.

“A lot of the an­swers to the se­cu­rity ques­tions you’re asked when ac­cess­ing your bank ac­count could be on Linkedin, Face­book and so on,” said Ni­amh Daven­port of the BPFI.

Linkedin, for ex­am­ple, will have de­tails of your work. Face­book could have per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, such as your birth­day or your pet’s name. Be care­ful too about how you in­ter­act with your bank and util­ity com­pany’s Twit­ter pages.

“If you go onto your bank’s Twit­ter page, limit your ques­tions to low-level queries like the bank’s open­ing hours,” said Daven­port. “Don’t ask per­sonal queries. Fraud­sters are trawl­ing Twit­ter for th­ese per­sonal queries — and if you make one, you may then get a call from some­one who claims to be from your bank and says they’re fol­low­ing up on your query on Twit­ter.” You’re more prone to fall for a scam if you are un­der time pres­sure — so never di­vulge per­sonal or fi­nan­cial de­tails, or trans­fer money to an­other ac­count, when you’re busy or rushed.

“Fraud­sters will al­ways cre­ate a sense of ur­gency,” said Daven­port. “Be­fore you do any­thing, stop and think — take your time and don’t feel un­der pres­sure. If you get an email from a sup­plier ask­ing you to pay money into a dif­fer­ent ac­count, ring your sup­plier and ver­bally con­firm that their bank de­tails have changed.

“If it’s your bank call­ing you about a fraud in the bank or un­usual trans­ac­tions on your ac­count, hang up the phone, and ring the num­ber at the back of your bank card or credit card to check that what you’ve been told is true — but be sure you hear a dial tone when you make that call.” Con­tact your bank or card com­pany im­me­di­ately if you sus­pect, you have fallen for a scam.

“Time is of the essence with fraud,” said Daven­port. “If you have au­tho­rised the trans­fer of money out of your ac­count, if your bank gets to it on time, it may be able to stop the trans­fer.

“How­ever once the money is gone out of your ac­count, there’s nothing there for the bank to re­fund.”

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