How scammers scam you

Remember, you can be scammed over the phone or on a website, by email, text or letter, at your front door or on the street. So there are many ways that you can fall victim to a scam or fraud. The best defence is to be on your guard.  

Scammers are always finding new ways to trick you, but many scams are based on an existing one, so being aware of the different types of scams is the best way to spot new ones. Here are some tips on what to watch out for:

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is! There is no such thing as free money, but scammers will try to convince you that there is. If you have a gut feeling that something is not quite right, you're probably right.

Be on your guard. Never give your personal, bank or credit card details to someone you have never heard of before – this type of scam is called Phishing.  Remember, banks, credit card companies, utility companies and your internet provider already have your personal details if you are a customer – they would not ask you to confirm them.

Think twice before responding to a friend’s message requesting money. It could be a scam that involves someone hacking into your friend’s email or social media account. The message will appear to be from your friend saying they are abroad, have lost their money and bank cards or they have been stolen and they needs you to wire money to them. 

Never click on links within emails that you feel a friend or acquaintance would not ordinarily send or that you are unfamiliar with. Also be very wary about clicking on links in emails that come from an address that you do not recognise.

Some scammers tell you that you have won an incredible prize – but you know you never entered a competition or lottery. Stop, think and be sceptical. If you are asked to pay money, or to ring a premium rate telephone number to claim a prize, then you have not won anything - this is a lottery or prize scam.

Some scammers telephone you and tell you that there is a problem with your PC - a virus or system crash or that it has been hacked. They then say they can fix the problem for you if you give them your credit card details or remote access to your PC. They then use these personal details to steal your money. Always be suspicious of anyone making these requests. This is a phishing scam.

Use your bank and credit cards safely and securely. Scammers can copy your card in just a few seconds – this type of scam is called “skimming”. Never let your cards out of your sight and never give anyone your PIN number.

Take care when buying or selling goods online or through a newspaper. Never accept large sums of cash, cheques, or money transfers as payment. If you are selling something valuable like a car, ask the buyer to get you a draft from their bank or to transfer the money to your bank account. A draft will guarantee you receive the money immediately at your bank, and if a buyer refuses to pay by draft or transfer, be suspicious.

If you are selling an item for sale in the local newspaper or on a website, for example your car, never accept a cheque or draft for an amount over the asking price. This is a scam. You will typically be asked to refund the amount over the asking price after you deposit the cheque or draft. The scammer will claim it was a mistake or for shipping expenses. The cheque will inevitably bounce and you will lose the money the money you have “refunded”.  

Unauthorised investment companies called ‘boiler rooms’ pressure you into investing in worthless high-risk shares, foreign currency or other ‘investments’. You may make money the first time, but this is usually a tactic to make you invest larger amounts the next time. If you are offered an investment deal, always check that the firm is authorised by visiting the Central Bank's registers website. You should also check the Central Bank's list of unauthorised firms to make sure a warning notice has not been issued about a firm.  The Central Bank's website has more information on avoiding scams and unauthorised activity.

Never respond to a scam as this might make you a target for other scams. Scammers sell lists of people who have responded to scams on to other scammers. These lists are called "suckers lists" and if your details are on them you will be targeted again and again.

Some of your friends or family might have innocently joined a pyramid scheme and might try to convince you to join too. Promoting or participating in a pyramid scheme is illegal in Ireland and carries very serious penalties.   

Scams can be very convincing – scammers can email you claiming to work for a company you deal with or using the logo of the company and you could be asked to visit a very legitimate looking website which might be part of the scam to corrupt your computer and copy your personal details.


Lots of people fall for scams every day, but being on your guard and using your common sense can help save you from becoming a victim too.


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