Scam calls and texts are unwanted and unsolicited communications which can affect large portions of the population. Scam calls and texts aim to mislead people into revealing some personal or sensitive information to the scammer.
There are several ways to identify scam calls and report suspicious activity.
How do I identify and avoid scams?
Unfortunately, scam messages of any kind can be difficult to identify. It is important to be prudent by following these tips. Always be extra vigilant when you receive messages from unknown numbers, especially those that send links, ask for personal information, or require you to input any bank or card information.
- Hang up immediately if a caller pressures you, claims urgent action is needed, or threatens negative consequences.
- If a call or text message claims to be from a bank, government agency or a company you know do not engage directly. Look up their official contact details to verify the number.
- Check messages for spelling errors or incorrect details.
- Block a number if they persistently call you or engage in suspicious behaviour.
- If you have friends or relatives abroad. Store their numbers in your phone (including the country prefix).
- If you are getting persistent scam calls from a number, contact your service provider, and request the number be blocked.
- NEVER provide any personal information, (bank details/PPS number/credit card details/name and address/passport numbers, passwords, etc.)
- Do not follow instructions from a recorded message.
- Be wary of receiving multiple calls or missed calls from the same unfamiliar number, especially if it is like your own number. Do not call back any number that you do not recognise or where no voicemail message was left.
- If you click on a link in a scam text, close the web page and message immediately.
- Do not download any unrecognised software or programs.
What should I do if I fall for a scam?
First of all, if you believe you have fallen victim to a scam there is no need to feel embarrassed. Scammers have become more and more sophisticated over time, and many have fallen victim to scams.
Please contact your local Garda station or visit Garda.ie if you are concerned you have fallen victim to a scam, or if you have come across something you suspect to be a scam.
Why am I getting so many scam calls and scam texts lately?
The rise of remote working, online shopping, banking, and social media has created more opportunities for scammers to steal data and money from unsuspecting users.
Though your phone service provider is likely to be already blocking suspicious numbers, some calls get through as it is difficult to quickly recognise scammers and block their calls and texts efficiently without blocking genuine numbers.
How did the scammers get my number?
Scammers use software to call or text a range of numbers at the same time and then note which are answered. Answered numbers are recorded as genuine in-use numbers and may be sold on the internet to other cybercriminals.
Therefore, making your number ex-directory or adding your number to the “do not call” register for direct marketing will not prevent scams. If you have fallen victim to a scam previously, you may be contacted by other scammers who claim to be able to help you get your money back for a fee.
What are some examples of scam calls and texts?
The most common types of scam calls and scam texts currently being experienced by consumers in Ireland appear to be:
- Calling Line Identification Spoofing (“CLI”): faked numbers that appear to be genuine.
- SMS Spoofing or Smishing: fake numbers that try to trick you into clicking on a malicious attachment or link.
- Spear Phishing: personalised messages that trick you into clicking on a malicious attachment or link.
- Wangiri – short calls or faked missed calls prompt you to call back an international number for the financial benefit of the scammer.
- Vishing – ‘voice’ and ‘phishing’. Is a phone call, which may sound robotic, to get you to share personal information and financial details, such as account numbers and passwords.
- Tech Support Scam Calls: calls where a scammer offers technical support service in order to make you log into bank accounts.
- Robocall: a recorded message that often sounds like a robot listing options that, if selected, will connect you to the scammer.