THE people of West Cork are being targeted, on a daily basis, by a new telephone scam, according to local gardai.
The scam involves the victims giving away personal and financial details after being told the information is needed, either by a financial institution or a computer firm.
Warning people to be on alert for such scams, local crime prevention officer Ian O’Callaghan told The Southern Star: ‘There are increasing reports of consumers being cold called by fraudsters claiming to be from a major computer company and or financial institutions. A number of individuals have been duped and have disclosed their information and have suffered financial loss.’
Older people are being particularly targeted, and some calls purport to be from a firm which advises the victim that they can help in the resolution of PC issues.
As a result, they can direct the PC owner to execute commands which give the caller access to the person’s home computer.
During the call the customer may also be requested to provide their date of birth and their bank card details.
Phone users should be aware of any ‘cold calls’ from businesses, and never provide personal information unless they are sure of their bona fides. At no stage should they give PIN numbers out over the phone, as a bank will never request this information over the phone, either by email or voice.
‘Customers are reminded to treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism,’ said Ian.
‘And never allow a ‘cold caller’ take control of your computer or laptop. Strangers who ring advising that you are having a problem with your computer are trying to defraud you.’
Bank customers are reminded to keep their personal banking login and card details safe and that personal banking log-in and card details must never be shared.
While methods of obtaining money by false pretences are getting increasingly more sophisticated, the general advice for the public is to always be aware when ‘red alert’ questions are asked by third parties - especially in relation to personal information.
In the past, email communication was used to extract information from unsuspecting people, but nowadays phone calls and more sophisticated methods of communication are being used by criminals.
Computer experts also advise the public to regularly change passwords on accounts, PINs, bank log-ins and more. And never disclose them to anyone else.
Do not use passwords that are easily discoverable, like dates of birth or addresses, or obvious words that can be ‘guessed’ by sophisticated computer programs.