Public urged to be vigilant of fraud

THE PUBLIC is being urged to fight finance fraud that is “ruining people’s self respect and lives”.

Speaking at the launch of a comprehensive guide to tackling the rising problem, Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael Feehan yesterday urged people to play a role in preventing fraud.

“Each and every day, fraudsters by their dishonest actions ruin people’s self respect and lives by deceiving them through the activities this guide describes,” he said.

“We must all – the individual, the Garda Síochána and the financial industry – play a role in preventing it.”

Produced by the Irish Banking Federation (IBF), the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO), An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the guide includes the key warning signs that consumers should be on the lookout for and the steps they should take to best protect themselves against fraudsters, including online, card-based, ATM and identity fraud.

Cases of online banking fraud rose by 55% to a record £39 million (€43m) this year, according to the British industry body Financial Fraud Action.

It said the increase was largely due to criminals employing more sophisticated methods to target online banking customers through scams – which target vulnerabilities in PCs. There were also more than 26,000 phishing incidents during January to June 2009 – a 26% increase on the amount seen in the same period last year, the FFA added.

In this country, telecom firm Minute Buyer says it has seen a significant increase in telephone fraud and hacking over the last three months.

Director of the firm Shaun Hayden said fraud figures were nearly impossible to pin down because so many organisations were reluctant to talk about it publicly, but it was estimated that time theft is costing Irish companies millions annually – where hackers use the company’s system for their own gain.

Speaking at the launch of the Guide, IBF’s Paul O’Connor said the guide was straightforward and should enable customers to safeguard against fraud arising in the financial services they use.

“Through a better understanding of the different types of fraud that can arise and by following the simple, practical advice provided in this guide, customers can be more vigilant in protecting their interests,” he said.

Dave Jones, Assistant Chief Constable of the PSNI said fraud was often perceived to be a victimless crime.

“This is not the case,” he said. “While it can mean a significant financial loss for companies and organisations, it can also have an impact on individuals, family and friends.”

The guide, Be Aware, Beat Fraud, is available in branches of participating financial institutions and on their websites; and also in Garda and Police stations or can be viewed in full on the web at http://www.url.ie/2rkc

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