11 Scams to Watch Out for in 2016
Forget about Saudi Princes with excess oil money they need to stash in your bank account for a little while, 2015’s crop of con artists were far more clever than that. And undoubtedly, in 2016 we will be exposed to new and even more sophisticated scams.
According to a survey by the media specialist agency Mediavest, Irish consumers are getting more and more cautious about giving out their personal information by phone or over the internet. 90% or Irish people fear they will be subject to some form of identity theft. While 85% said that they have actively minimised what data they do give out.
Though people have become more cautious about using their credit or debit card details, there is a persistent blind spot for information given out over sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It seems that peoples caution only stretches so far when it comes to security over their personal information.
Scam artists pray on peoples innocence and trust and they are becoming ever better at it. They also spread their net wide, so there is a good chance that in 2016 you will be contacted by one, through email or over the phone. In order to help you prepare for this and not get caught we have listed some of the most common and effective scams that are currently be used in Ireland right now.
1 This first scam worked so well that the Gardaí had to issue a warning to the public about it, after five people were scammed for thousands of euro within a month.
It works like this. You get a call to your landline from a security manager of a well-known shop. They tell you that someone in the store is trying to use your credit card or debit card. There is a sense of urgency in there voice. They want you to act fast; not to think too hard.
The security manager will ask for your financial details. Of course you don’t give them to him. You are not that stupid. However, when you don’t he advises you that you should cancel your card for safety. This plants some doubt in your mind. You think that maybe he wasn’t lying to you after all, and just to be sure you call the bank after you hang up.
What few people know is that when a call is made to a landline only the caller and not the receiver can disconnect. This means that when you picked the phone up to call the bank, the fraudster was still on the line, where they will then pretend to be an employee at the bank. They may further ask you to transfer your money to another account for safety. Once you do this there is no comeback. Scammers have had people hand over up to €38,000 using this method. And usually it goes to countries sch as Indonesia, where is there is little the guards can do to get it back.
2 This scam is not as sophisticated but it has been very successful. It works as a pop up screen on your computer. What catches people is that it looks semi-official. It has a Garda logo and it informs you that you are using your computer for illegal purposes and that you have been locked out of it pending a Garda investigation. The only way around it: pay.
Of course, with a little refection anyone could see through this scam. The Garda don’t use pop ups, and they certainly don’t offer payment as a way to circumvent the law. But people can still be caught by the sense of urgency that this scam manipulates. There are also people who are not 100% computer savvy that might not know any better.
3 The Microsoft scam is another scam that preys on people who don’t have a complete understanding of how the tech world works. Microsoft itself (the actual company) surveyed 7,000 computer users in Ireland, the UK, the US and Canada, and found that 26% of Irish people polled had been contacted by scammers and that 16% had suffered some financial loss from it.
In this scam the fraudster calls people on the phone and tells them there is a problem with their computer. They then continue to use a range of deceptive techniques designed to steal money. If you ever receive such a call hang up immediately; call such as this don’t exist in legitimate circumstances.
4 You receive an email from your bank, Ebay or form PayPal. They ask you to provide details such as password or bank account number so that they can upgrade you security features (ironically enough). No reputable company would ever do this. However, the scam remains very effective because it looks so official. With all the right branding used by the scammer, it is hard to dismiss these emails on first sight.
As similar scam pupported to be from the Revenue Commission, saying that they offer a significant tax rebate for those who submit their financial details online. Of course the website they send you to will not be the Revenue’s but a site designed to harvest your financial details. Any correspondence promising cash is probably too good to be true.
5 Some of the most despicable scams prey on people good will and kindness. If a an old friend emails you telling you that they are in serious trouble, maybe abroad, maybe in hospital and they need you to send them money to get home/out of hospital, it is probably a scam. Your friend is fine. Someone has just taken over their account and you should let your real friend know through other communication means (preferably by talking to them on the phone).
6 Have you ever won huge sums of money in a lottery without ever even having bought a ticket? So have thousands of other people! At least that’s what the scammer wanted them to think. Getting a letter saying that you have won a lottery, perhaps in a different county, is a very common and persistent scam. All you have to do to claim your money is to send them back your bank details. We strongly recommend that you don’t.
7 “Hello good person. I am Mrs Janic Otumba and my housbond is director of First Bank of Angola, and I have urgent, very confidential business proposition for you. An American Oil consultant with the Nigeria Mining Corporation, Mr Antonio Creek deposited $20,200,000 in the branch of my husband but now Mr Antonio Creek has die without making a WILL, and attempts to trace his family are fruitless. I found your name on an IMPORTANT people register of good deeds and want your help to secrete the money out of my country. Can you please contact my husnand and we will make the transfer.”
You might have seen this or something very similar in your email before. It’s called a 419 scam. Only one-in-a-million could fall for this right? Well, the scammers only needs one-in-ten-million to believe them in order for them to turn a profit.
8 There is a simple rule when buying a car that you should always abide by. See the car before you hand over any money. There are many scammers on websites like Carzone.ie and Autotrader.ie, and they can be quite sophisticated in there cons. For instance, you might see a car posted that is worth €20,000 but is being sold for €5,000. It’s a deal that’s too good to be true. That’s because it isn’t true. A big tip off to this one is when the seller gives you a big story about how they are moving to continental Europe where they can’t sell the car because it is a right-hand drive. You send of the deposit after which they will ship you the car. Don’t expect to ever see that car or your money again.
9 The quickest way to gain someones confidence is a good forgery. That is why this scam so effective. If you run a small business you might be susceptible. Someone will call you up wanting to place an order for whatever it is you sell. They will then send you a bank draft for twice the cost of what they bought. You lodge it to you bank account without a fuss.
However, it’s not over. The buyer calls back and says that they’ve made a mistake with the payment. They sound distressed and want you send they their money back. But the money you send them is your own. The bank will call and tell you that the bank draft the buyer gave you was a forgery. You have no comeback.
10 Ebay is another hotspot for scammers. Buying from trusted sellers is your best option but sometimes scammers can even find a way around that. One such method they have is to offer you a chance to buy an item you just missed out on through bidding. There offer will usually come to your email (with eBay’s logo an branding). They will say that the winning bidder has pulled out and that you can buy your desired item for the last price you bid. If you take there offer don’t expect your item to show up any time soon. It is a scam.
11 This kind of scam has gotten a lot of press this year due the rising cost of rent and the shortage of houses around the country. It’s a particularly attractive scam for fraudsters because they know that many people are desperate to find a room, and therefore are more willing to take a chance on an unusual deal.
It usually works something like this. You see an ad for an apartment on daft.ie. The price is relatively low, the apartment looks really nice, and it’s in a great location. (Too good to be true? Probably). The owner emails you and tells you a lengthy story designed to put you at your ease. It often turns out that they are living abroad at the moment (usually in London), and they will send you the key to the apartment if you send them the deposit. If you choose not to take the house you an send back the key and they will send you back the deposit. But I think you know where this is going by now. There was never an apartment.
PRECAUTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
If it sounds too good to be true, you can usually be guaranteed that it is. People don’t go around handing out money. Not before you at least buy a ticket or enter a draw.
Don’t be panicked into revealing any private information. No legitimate business, or person, would ever expect you to hand over private information such as a debit card number before you were absolutely sure you wanted to. If you have doubts about something, take your time with it. Think about it logically and you will probably be able to see if it is a potential scam or not. If you have doubts, don’t do it.
Ignore any email request for personal information. Such requests are never made by legitimate businesses. If you are inputting personal information into a website make sure that the web address starts with https (the “s” stands for secure) as opposed to just http.
Finally, never open attachments from contacts you don’t know. They may contain software that mines your computer for your personal information. Likewise, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know on facebook, and never grant access to apps that you are not familiar with.