SUM­MER­TIME SCAMS

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

One fraud which could catch you out if you are about to travel, or have just re­turned from hol­i­day, is the air­line give­away scam. With th­ese scams, you typ­i­cally get an email from a well-known in­ter­na­tional flight car­rier seek­ing feed­back from you through a sur­vey.

“The email might say that if you re­spond to the sur­vey within a cer­tain date, you’ll get a €200 voucher off your next flight with the air­line,” said D’arcy. “The ques­tions on the sur­vey will be ques­tions that you’d ex­pect an or­di­nary air­line to ask you — but to­wards the end of the sur­vey, you’ll be asked for your bank de­tails and bank ac­count pass­word to fa­cil­i­tate pay­ment of the voucher.”

It is the ques­tion about your bank de­tails which should alert you to the fraud — and it is im­por­tant not to di­vulge this in­for­ma­tion or to re­spond to such sur­veys. With scams like this, the email ad­dress used will be very sim­i­lar to that of the or­gan­i­sa­tion the fraud­ster is pur­port­ing to be from — but it will have been al­tered slightly.

Would-be hol­i­day­mak­ers should also be aware of book­ing scams where fraud­sters set up bo­gus ac­com­mo­da­tion web­sites and post fake ad­verts on­line. Many peo­ple have lost thou­sands af­ter fall­ing for such scams — only dis­cov­er­ing they’ve been conned when they go on hol­i­day and find the ac­com­mo­da­tion they have paid for doesn’t ex­ist. Fraud­sters are also hack­ing the email ac­counts of gen­uine travel com­pany web­sites — and then get­ting in touch with the com­pany’s cus­tomers di­rectly, re­quest­ing pay­ment for the hol­i­day by bank trans­fer.

To avoid fall­ing prey to book­ing scams, do your re­search be­fore book­ing a hol­i­day or ac­com­mo­da­tion, book through rep­utable op­er­a­tors, check the com­pany’s web­site and email ad­dress to en­sure it hasn’t been sub­tly al­tered, and pay by credit card rather than bank trans­fer. Ring your travel com­pany di­rectly (us­ing the num­ber you al­ready have for them) if you re­ceive an email re­quest­ing pay­ment by bank trans­fer.

An­other com­mon sum­mer fraud is the sum­mer job scam where con­men of­fer non-ex­is­tent jobs to chil­dren who are off school, or to stu­dents who are off col­lege. Per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, such as tax de­tails and so­cial se­cu­rity num­bers, are sought — so the fraud­ster can steal the in­di­vid­ual’s iden­tity. An ad­vance pay­ment may even be sought by the ‘em­ployer’ to cover the cost of train­ing or ma­te­ri­als for the non-ex­is­tent job. Run a back­ground check on any em­ployer of­fer­ing you or your child a job — and steer clear of the ‘em­ployer’ if they’re seek­ing an ad­vance pay­ment.

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