17% of Irish people fall victim to mobile phone scams

A new poll by Digital Business Ireland found that women were the most vulnerable to mobile scams, with 20% surveyed confirming they have been a victim of such a fraud.

Almost a fifth (17%) of the Irish public have fallen victim to a scam through their mobile phone.  

Mobile phone scams involve criminals posing as representatives from a host of businesses or agencies to try and elicit information or money from unsuspecting victims, either directly by phone call or through text message.

“Telecommunications and digital tools are a wonderful asset to businesses but when they are misused they can cause a plethora of problems – especially for unsuspecting consumers”

On foot of the inordinate growth of reportage on this new type of crime, Digital Business Ireland commissioned Ireland Thinks to carry out a poll to understand how widespread the issue is.

The poll follows recent research by Bank of Ireland that revealed 82% of the population are targeted by fraudsters at least once per month.

Public needs to be vigilant about scams

The questions asked of a 30,000 panel include “Have you been a victim of fraud or a scam through your mobile phone?” and “Did you report this breach to the Data Protection Commission and/or other relevant authorities?”  

Among the key findings in the poll are: 

  • 20% of women reported a violation of their information through a mobile phone scam, while only 12% of men did similarly.  
  • Just 37% of these incidents were reported to the Data Protection Commissioner or other relevant authorities.  
  • Nearly half of women (43%) reported being scammed to the relevant authorities, while just over a quarter of men (26%) did the same.  
  • Older groups reported these scams in significantly higher numbers than the younger cohorts. Just 19% of 18-34 year olds reported their scams, while 45% of 55-64 year olds, and 43% of the 65+ age group did the same; more than double the figure.  

Fraud and scams are notoriously underreported, with the UK’s National Crime Agency stating that 86% of fraud instances are estimated to go unreported. Recent figures from the Commission for Communications Regulation show that scams costs Irish consumers more than €300m each year. 

With such high figures in the survey Digital Business Ireland is urging the public to be vigilant about their information security, passwords and data online. October is European Cybersecurity Month and DBI is reminding people to be wary of links in emails, texts and on social media; and to use password managers to protect their accounts. 

“We’ve seen scams grow more and more elaborate and sophisticated in recent years and these threats continue to grow and evolve all the time,” said Ashley McDonnell, chair of Digital Business Ireland.

“Telecommunications and digital tools are a wonderful asset to businesses but when they are misused they can cause a plethora of problems – especially for unsuspecting consumers. 

“With October marking Cybersecurity Month, DBI wants to highlight the top frauds people are encountering so that the unsuspecting public can be fully aware of the latest threats. Being careful with your data online and treating every request for sensitive information with skepticism, until you confirm it comes from a legitimate source, is our top tip.”