Ireland’s big three banks are battling a 35-fold rise in the number of bogus email alerts being sent out asking consumers to “re-register” their accounts for security reasons.
But consumers who reply to the emails can find their accounts emptied with the average loss per customer as high as €6,000.
Yesterday, the banks revealed they managed to stop most of the waves of bogus emails before the messages arrived in customers’ inboxes.
“But for every wave that gets through, the average loss to the banks is about €30,000,” said Úna Dillon, of the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO).
“We used to see about one wave of these emails about once a week but now we’re getting seven a day.
“Customers won’t necessarily see all of these as the banks manage to stop them but customers who do get them and respond can find their accounts cleared out,” she said.
The scam, known as phishing, involves emails being sent out in bulk to recipients who are told they need to “re-register”.
Consumers are told to click on a website address but they are directed to bogus sites that look like their banks’ sites.
They are asked to divulge their account numbers, passwords and security codes to “re-activate” their accounts but the cheats use the information to steal money.
Customers can find their accounts emptied or their details used to buy goods and services online. A similar scam targets people with credit cards.
IPSO figures show consumers lose about €12.5 million a year through phishing and frauds like card skimming, which involves fraudulent shop staff cloning cards to withdraw money.
Customers are reminded banks never ask for details by email and are recommended to delete any emails they are unsure about.
* www.makeitsecure.ie or www.safecard.ie