An Garda Síochána is advising people to be on the alert for a phone scam, in which fraudsters claim to be calling from utility companies on the pretence that there are issues with the customer’s broadband service.

The alert is also being issued by FraudSMART, a fraud awareness initiative from the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI).

The caller will try to rush you or make you feel foolish and negligent if you don’t follow their instructions, but this is all designed to panic you into doing something you wouldn’t otherwise do.

As part of the scam, a utility company – such as a telephone/mobile phone provider, broadband provider or software company, calls offering to “fix” computer or broadband problems.

The caller will attempt to trick people into revealing banking or card details and providing codes from card readers to access online banking.

People may be asked to allow the caller to take remote control of their computer to “assist” them – but this could allow the fraudster to show people fake screens or websites.

The callers are professional and will be able to transfer people to their “supervisor” should they request this. Gardaí have said they “sound genuine.”

Always be wary of any unexpected calls or texts especially those asking for personal details or payments.

Never give your financial or personal information in order to release the money, refund fees, or access to your computer.

FraudSMART has issued the following advice:

  • Never give out personal information until you have checked that the caller is a genuine representative of the organisation they claim to be from. Advise the caller you will call them back once you have checked their identity
  • You can do this by looking up the organisation’s phone number using a phone book or website and calling the number yourself directly. Make sure you hear a dial tone before you dial. Do not use a number the caller has given to you as this could be a fake number
  • Don’t assume you can trust caller ID. Fraudsters can spoof a number, so it looks like they are calling from a particular company or bank, even when they are not
  • Remember it takes two people to terminate a landline phone call, you can use a different phone line to independently check the caller’s identity or at least make sure you hear a dial tone before you call anyone
  • Fraudsters may have basic information about you in their possession (e.g. name, address etc), do not assume the caller is genuine because they have this information
  • Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Take your time and do the relevant checks

Further advice and information can be found here