Gardaí warn public over text scam seeking bank details

Targets of ‘smishing’ scheme receive SMS appearing to be from their bank

Gardaí are warning the public about an ongoing text message scam. Photograph: iStock

Gardaí are warning the public about an ongoing text message scam. Photograph: iStock

 

Gardaí are warning the public about an ongoing text message scam known as “smishing”, which seeks to gather a person’s bank account information.

Targets of the scam receive a text message appearing to be from their bank asking them to confirm personal details or click on links to unfreeze their account, according to An Garda Síochána and the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).

Gardaí at the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) said the focus of criminals behind the scam is to obtain personal information that will allow them to steal money from bank accounts.

Det Chief Supt Patrick Lordan from the GNECB said banks and other financial entities will never make unsolicited contact with individuals asking for personal details, account numbers, four-digit pin number or passwords.

“People receiving unsolicited communications looking for these personal details should not reply to text messages, emails or other communications. They should contact their bank independently to check on the validity of the communications they have received before taking any action,” he said.

Niamh Davenport, who leads the BPFI FraudSMART programme advised people to “always be wary of any unexpected calls or texts which appear to be your bank especially those asking for personal details or payments”.

She said: “Your bank will never ask for your personal information so never give your financial or personal information in order to release money, refund fees, or access to your computer.

“Fraudsters are very convincing but don’t be afraid to take the time to make the relevant checks. The scammer will try to rush you, but this is all designed to panic you into doing something you wouldn’t otherwise do.”

Key details of the scam include:

  1. The message will imitate a text from your bank.
  2. The message will typically ask you to click on a link to a website to “verify”, “update” or to “reactivate” your account.
  3. It may ask you to reply to the text message with personal or financial information or to click on a link to website.
  4. If it includes a link, the website is a fake one. The website will then attempt to get you to disclose personal or financial information. If clicked on it also could download dangerous software known as malware to your computer or mobile device.
  5. Often the text will create a sense of urgency to make you act without thinking; for example, it may say your money is in danger or your account will be frozen.

Gardaí have advised the following:

  • A text from your bank will not ask you for any personal information, only ever respond Y or N to bank text messages.
  • Never respond to a text message that requests your four-digit pin number or your online banking details or any other password.
  • Do not respond to unsolicited text/SMS messages before independently validating who the text appears to be from. Never use the number in the text message. For your bank, use the number on the back of your debit/credit card.
  • Don’t be rushed. Take your time and make the appropriate checks before responding.
  • Do not click on a link, attachment or image that you receive in an unsolicited text without first verifying the text and understanding what you are clicking on.
  • If you think you have responded to a “smishing” text message, contact your bank immediately.