Ireland being battered by online fraudsters

82% of the population are targeted by fraudsters at least once per month, according to research commissioned by Bank of Ireland.

In the wake of a new wave of impersonation scams, Bank of Ireland is warning customers to be extra vigilant in their interactions with businesses online, and when responding to unsolicited or unexpected texts, emails or phone calls. 

The current spike in fraudulent activity has occurred as Bank of Ireland launches a major national fraud awareness campaign to warn customers of the prevalence of fraud, with 96% of consumers believing they will be targeted in the next six months, and 82% saying they are targeted at least once per month. 

“Unfortunately, fraud and cybercrime have become part of people’s everyday lives”

The most common forms of impersonation fraud involve people receiving calls, texts or emails from fraudsters posing as a parcel delivery company (80%), a road toll provider (55%) or their bank (49%). 

The Bank is working with renowned cyberpsychologist Professor Mary Aiken, to build consumer awareness about fraud, and explain the human psychology used by fraudsters. Professor Aiken is recording a series of online videos designed to give insights and tips to help people protect their own personal and financial details from fraudsters.  The campaign will run for 14 weeks across radio, digital channels and social media. 

Professor Mary Aiken is a world-leading expert in Cyberpsychology – the study of the impact of technology on human behaviour. She is recognised as an international expert in policy debates at the intersection of technology and human behaviour.  She is a member of the INTERPOL Global Cybercrime Expert Group and an Academic Advisor to the European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3) at Europol.

Impersonation at the root of most scams

“Unfortunately, fraud and cybercrime have become part of people’s everyday lives,” said Nicola Sadlier, Head of Fraud, Bank of Ireland.

“Our research conducted by Red C* shows this, with 82% of people saying they are targeted by fraudsters at least once per month, and 36% as frequently as once per week.  Most people who have been a victim of fraud said they fell for the scam because they were distracted or too busy at the time. Which underlines the need for vigilance. 

“Impersonation is at the root of the majority of fraud in circulation for both our personal and business customers.   We are regularly seeing fraudsters sending texts posing as delivery companies, road toll and government agencies.  Parents are being targeted by impersonating children in need of urgent help, to prey on their vulnerabilities and prompt a reaction. 

“Businesses are receiving calls from fraudsters impersonating their bank and duping them into allowing them access to their companies’ accounts.  These are cynical criminals, whose main goal is to access people’s bank accounts and steal their money. 

“That’s why we are reminding customers that, often, all is not what it seems, as fraudsters continue to impersonate trusted businesses and organisations, including banks.  The message is: Stop, Think, Check – access your banking only through the official mobile banking app or website by typing in a website address and treat every unsolicited call, text or email as a potential fraud attempt,” said Sadlier.

As fraud becomes increasingly prevalent in people’s lives, the majority of people now recognise a fraud attempt and react in the correct way, with 89% of people who were targeted by a call text or email saying that they realised very quickly that it was a scam, so they deleted or ignored it.  However, given the large number of scams in operation, the fraudsters rely on a relatively small percentage of people falling for the scam for it to be successful. 

If people suspect they have been a victim of fraud they should contact their bank immediately so that the bank can take action to stop a fraud in progress and try to recover funds  Bank of Ireland customers can call our Fraud Team 24/7, on the Freephone line 1800 946 764. For more advice and information on fraud, visit Security Zone

ThinkBusiness, powered by Bank of Ireland, has been created for Irish business owners and managers who are seeking information, resources and help on a range of business topics. It provides practical, actionable information and guidance on starting, growing and running a business.