Limerick gardai issue warning over 'smishing' text scam

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Email:

fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Scam

GARDAI have issued an urgent warning to the public of a scam in which victims receive texts appearing to be from their bank requesting personal bank details in a sinister bid to steal their money. 

According to the gardai, supported by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, this scam is called "smishing". 

Detective Chief Superintendent Patrick Lohan, Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, said: "Banks and other financial entities will never make unsolicited contact with individuals asking for personal details, account numbers, 4-digit pin number or passwords.”

He warned that 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". 

Sgt Ber Leetch, of Henry Street garda station, received a report of a female student who received "what looked like a legitimate text message from her bank. 

"The text had a link that she clicked on, she then entered her pin number, a short time later her bank called her to say that a large sum of money had been taken from her account in two transactions. She did not make these transactions. Be very suspicious if you are contacted by your bank or financial institution, ring them back yourself and be certain that the initial contact was from them," Sgt Leetch said. 

 

KEY DETAILS OF THE SCAM

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 e.g. your money is in danger or your account will be frozen. 

WARNING SIGNS

The following are some warning signs 

1. The text message will be unsolicited 

2. The text message will always seek information that allows access to bank accounts, Note; banks or other financial institutions would not look for that kind of information!! 

3. The text will instruct the individual to go to a website or make a phone call to a specified number 

4. The text will create a fear that if the customer does not take action requested in the text, their account will be compromised 

5. The text will emphasise the need for urgent action by the recipient of the text 

WHAT CAN YOU DO? 

1. A text from your bank will not ask you for any personal information, only ever respond Y or N to bank text messages. 

2. Never respond to a text message that requests your 4-digit card PIN or your online banking details or any other password.

3. 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. 

4. Don’t be rushed. Take your time and make the appropriate checks before responding. 

5. 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. 

6. If you think you have responded to a Smishing text message, contact your bank immediately.

Niamh Davenport, who leads the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) FraudSMART programme, offers the following advice to consumers: "Always be wary of any unexpected calls or texts which appear to be your bank especially those asking for personal details or payments. 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.”