Public warned of new spate of consumer scams

The public has been warned to be on the lookout for a host of new scams being used by fraudsters to con consumers out of their money.

Public warned of new spate of consumer scams

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has compiled a list of scams which are currently in operation alongside long-established practices such as “phishing”.

“There are many ways that you can fall victim to a scam or fraud,” the commission advises. “The best defence is to be on your guard. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

Among the scams pinpointed are:

  • Pensions: The victim is contacted out of the blue and offered early access to their pension. Phrases used include “one-off investment opportunities”, “legal loopholes”, and “up-front cash sum”. After building up trust, the scammer persuades the victim to act quickly;
  • Investments: These are also called “boiler room” scams because they use high pressure sales to create a sense of urgency. The scammer may offer shares or a range of investment “opportunities” including luxury goods, rare earth metals, or sustainable energy crops;
  • Vishing: This is a phone scam where the scammer impersonates someone from a bank, the police or other legitimate organisation such as a telephone or internet provider, CCPC states. The victim is persuaded to transfer their money to a new ‘safe’ account;
  • Number spoofing: Technology is used to mimic the telephone number of the organisation they want to impersonate and then make it appear on the victim’s caller ID. They invite the caller to call back using the number on the back of their bank card but the scammer keeps the line open so the victim is connected straight back;
  • Courier: An unsolicited phone call or text advises that fraud has been detected on the victim’s debit or credit card. The fraudster asks the victim for the card so that they can perform a pin block, then uses a courier to collect the card;
  • Subscription traps: Consumers are trapped into costly long-term contracts when they sign up for ‘free’ trials. The victim pays a postage fee to get a free sample. However, hidden in the small print is the catch — unless you contact the company to cancel within a set timeframe (usually 14 days), you will be billed every month for the full cost of the product;
  • Online tickets: Be wary of black market tickets for sporting and music events and festivals via an email or website contact. Stick to standard ticket agencies, and look for the little online padlock symbol for security. Beware of Rugby World Cup 2015 ticket scams this autumn.

For the full list of scams, visit www.consumerhelp.ie

Advice for victims of scams

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission offers this advice to anyone who believes they have been caught out by a scam:

“If you think you have been the victim of a scam or fraud and you have given someone your bank account or credit card information, inform your bank or credit card company immediately so they can tell you what action they need to take.

“This might include putting a stop to your account, cancelling your credit or debit card or stopping a transaction from going through your account.

“Contact the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation on 01 666 3777 or your local garda station immediately.

“Contact us and tell us about any scams you, your friends, families or colleagues have experienced. Building awareness about scams is the best way to stop them.”

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