Many people are familiar with some of the more common scam calls or phishing emails, but it appears they are on the increase and in some cases, have evolved to be more elaborate and believable. They come in a few different categories that can be grouped as follows: 

Missed phone calls – Recently, these have come from a +678 number, but many variations from far-away international numbers have been used. They try not to ring long enough for you to answer (usually your mobile) hoping to prompt you to call back. Doing so, can result in either charging your bill exorbitant amounts or using up your credit. Don’t call back just block and delete.

Calls to landlines – Many are familiar with the “I am calling from Microsoft about the virus on your computer” kind of call. Their aim is to convince you that you have a problem that they can fix, either by giving them payment details, or worse, giving them remote access to your computer which could be giving them far more damaging information. Microsoft do not call homes to tell them they have a virus. Do not entertain or engage, just hang up (perhaps tell them you do not have a computer!) 

Calls to small businesses – These are a bit more organised, in that they scour websites for contact information (could be mobiles or landlines) and have the name of your business in an attempt to sound more credible. Again, their aim is to lull you into a false sense of security and make you think you are upgrading, for example, your Google My Business (I received this one today from an 01-533 number!) As with any call of this nature, including someone purporting to be from your bank, hang up and use your own sources to look up the number and call them direct.

Emails and Text Messages – These are widest in variety, due to the nature of how automated systems can generate multiple mails/messages. It can be anything from updating your payment information for Netflix, confirming an order you have placed using PayPal, or letting you know that your monthly payment for your iCloud storage could not be completed. Under no circumstances, give any banking or payment details in response to these type of mails. Genuine companies will not look for them in that manner (or have as many typos/grammatical errors!) More importantly, DO NOT click on any hyperlinks within the message or mail, for example, “to cancel this order, click HERE”. A hyperlink can be made to look like any words (such as “Unsubscribe”) but can either direct you somewhere sinister, or more likely, download malware that give them full control of your computer/laptop/phone. A recent case in the UK highlighted where a lady had clicked on a hyperlink believing a friend had sent her a link to view some properties (she hadn’t properly looked at the email address they came from.) End result, weeks later was, thinking she had received an email from her solicitors to transfer balance of funds for a property purchase, transferred £65,000 to an account that was cleaned out the next day and never recovered.

With all these methods on the increase and getting more advanced, make sure you are vigilant when receiving any of these and do not engage or give any information away. 

Dave Kavanagh QFA has been advising people financially for over 25 years. For quotes or information (with no cost or obligation) he can be contacted by emailing info@financialcompanion.ie or use the contact form on www.financialcompanion.ie or phone 087-6414570. Combined with his previous role of gym/nutrition adviser, he regularly gives talks and workshops at seminars and events for groups, companies and government departments on financial wellbeing, positivity and motivation.  As heard on RTE 2FM and TV3.

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