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Gardai issue warning to public after thousands stolen through 'vishing' scams

NewsBy Shuki Byrne
Gardai are urging the public to be cautious with their details over the phone
Gardai are urging the public to be cautious with their details over the phone

Gardai have issued a warning to the public not to give out personal information out over the phone after a number of people were scammed out of large sums of money.

The 'vishing' scam occurs when a person receives a phone call to the landline purportedly from a security manager for a well-known retailer. 

The 'manager' informs the homeowner his or her credit or debit card has been fraudulently used in their store. 

They then attempt to extract personal financial information. However, many people are reticent about handing over details so the scammer tells them to call Gardai or their bank to resolve the issue. 

They then hang up and in some cases will call the Gardai or bank on the same landline.

However, the scam continues when the fraudsters stay on the line and waits for the person to redial. 

Gardai say some landlines remain open for up to 60 seconds after the person hangs up. When they immediately phone their bank or the garda phone number they have been given, they end up speaking to the scammers because the original call has remained active.

"They pick it up and say 'Hello this is your banker or 'Hello this is the garda station' and they go ahead and they give them the information they wouldn't give to the security managers," Detective Superintendent Gerard Walsh said.

Gardai said a number of people have been scammed in this way and in some cases have allowed money to be taken out of their bank accounts. One such person has been scammed out of €38,000.

Many of those who have been scammed report losses in the thousands. 

Over 30 people have contacted a well-known retailer complaining that someone has posed as a member of their staff. The scheme is known as 'vishing', or 'voice phishing' and has resulted in a number of people being scammed.

Gardai are urging people to listen for a dial tone before making another call. 

They are advising the public to: 

  • Treat all unsolicited calls with scepticism.
  • Never provide your bank details to an unknown person over the phone or otherwise.
  • Be sceptical and never transfer funds to other accounts unless 100 per cent satisfied that the transaction is genuine.
  • If you receive a suspicious phone call of this nature, ensure you have a dial tone before making another call.
  • The next call you make on the landline should be to a person known to you and ensure that you speak to that person to terminate the contact with the fraudulent caller.
  • Never use contact numbers provided by unknown persons.
  • Get your bank contact details independently, establish you have a dial tone and commence the call yourself.
  • If you think you may have received one of these bogus calls please monitor your bank account transactions closely.
  • Report the matter to your local garda station.