Fraudsters will target consumers as banks exit Ireland

Public urged to be extra vigilant for fraud as the mass movement of bank accounts accelerates with Ulster Bank and KBC exiting the market.

Irish banking customers are being warned that they should expect an increase in scam calls, texts and emails as fraudsters commonly take advantage of periods of change to target customers.

With Ulster Bank and KBC exiting the Irish market, hundreds of thousands of current account customers will move their accounts in the coming months, along with changing direct debits and standing order payments to utilities and other companies.

“The current mass movement of customers between banks creates ideal conditions for criminals”

So far this year, Bank of Ireland has opened double the number of personal current accounts compared to the same period last year.  Activity will accelerate more through 2022 and fraudsters will try to capitalise on this period of unprecedented change.

Be on your guard

Consumers should independently verify messages or calls asking for personal information or account details or containing warnings around the cancellation of important payments.  Fraudsters will try to introduce a sense of urgency to persuade consumers to give away their banking details. 

“We know that periods of major change or uncertainty create ideal conditions for fraudsters to operate,” said Edel McDermott, head of Group Fraud at Bank of Ireland.

“The rise in fraud recorded during Covid 19 and Brexit demonstrates this.  The number of ‘phishing’ websites detected by our Fraud Prevention Team doubled in one month alone in 2021 and, at its peak, we saw 70 new fraudulent sites appearing per day.”

“The current mass movement of customers between banks creates ideal conditions for criminals. As customers make arrangements to move their bank accounts and make changes to their direct debits and standing orders, they will be expecting communications from a whole range of providers. Protecting our customers against fraud at all times is a top priority. Particularly at this time, we ask customers to take extra care around the security of their personal information and their accounts”.

Bank of Ireland fraud advice:

  • Verify any texts/emails/phones calls saying they are from a bank or a utility provider asking you to take action relating to a direct debit, standing order, subscription. 
  • Do not click on any link or follow directions from somebody on a call without verifying first. End the call and phone your bank or the utility provider directly, using the number on their website.
  • Bank of Ireland will never send you a text with a link to a website that asks you for your online banking login details or any one-time codes that we’ve sent to you.
  • If you get a suspicious text please email a screenshot of the text to and then delete the text.
  • If you think you may have given away any of your banking details please call the +24/7 Freephone line 1800 946 764 immediately.
John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.