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Revolut warns of ‘shoulder surfing’ scam as it issues tips to keep banking details safe this Christmas


The popular online banking platform Revolut has warned its Irish customers to be on alert for scams that are popping up this festive season, including thefts that involve ‘shoulder surfing’.

Gardaí have warned that cybercrime is becoming increasingly prevalent, with criminals designing specific scams that target online shoppers and people who are out socialising over the Christmas period.

This week, the Irish Independent revealed that highly sophisticated fraud gang are targeting people who are out socialising, often by using bogus taxis.

There are already almost 100 victims of the Dublin-based gang who have worked out how to beat facial recognition on mobile phones which they use to empty their targets’ bank accounts, along with other methods.

The gang carrying out the scam are using ‘shoulder surfing’ techniques in pubs and clubs. This involves looking over someone’s shoulder to get information such as a passcode or PIN. As soon as they see the passcode, they set about stealing the phone.

In an email sent to its almost two million Irish customers this morning, Revolut issued a warning about ‘shoulder surfing’.

“Sometimes this has been done using an accomplice in a fake taxi. The criminal waits until the victim is leaving, then calls up their fake cab. Once in the taxi, the victim’s phone is stolen using various tactics - such as the driver saying they need to check maps,” Revolut said.

“If your mobile phone passcode is the same/similar to your banking app passcodes, criminals can use this to access your accounts and steal money. They can also change the device and banking app face verification, as well as access your stored Apple or Google Pay cards.”

Revolut has issued a series of tips for how to keep banking details safe.

Tips on how to keep your money safe

  • Protect your passcodes. Be wary of shoulder-surfers and people looking at your phone. Criminals may try to trick you.
  • Ensure your mobile phone passcode is different from your banking app passcodes. To change your Revolut passcode, tap on your profile in the top left of the home screen > Security & Privacy > Change passcode.
  • Be wary of fake taxis. Don’t accept a ride if it looks suspicious.

What to do if your mobile phone is stolen

  • If your phone has been stolen it's important that you contact us as soon as possible via the in-app chat so we can help secure your account.
  • Use a trusted friend or family member’s mobile phone to access your Revolut account. To speak to our support team, tap on your profile in the top left of the home screen > Help > New chat.
  • If you need help being redirected to chat, you can also reach out to us via DM on social media (more information here) or through our dedicated email
  • If you use other banking apps, report the theft to them immediately too.
  • Most phone manufacturers allow for remote lock or erase functionality. Make sure you have a registered account with your device manufacturer, and ensure you know how to activate these security measures if you need to.
  • Finally, report the theft to your nearest Garda station, or by calling 999 or 112.

Gardaí have warned that incidents of cyber crime increase in the lead up to and over the festive period.

Investigators said victims of shopping or purchase fraud are often tricked out their hard earned money in a number of ways, including credit details being stolen or goods not being delivered. In some instances counterfeit items are also sold under false pretences.

Gardaí said in the period from January 1, 2022, until October 31, 550 online shopping frauds have been reported. The average loss was €1,537 per incident, representing an overall loss to Irish citizens of €845,093.31.

Meanwhile, the business community is frequently targeted by fraudsters using stolen or compromised credit cards, bank accounts or payments, in what is called “card not present fraud”. Businesses who are victims of this fraud will suffer losses under the “charge back” process.

In the first 10 months of 2022, 1,356 card not present frauds have been reported, representing an average loss of €959 or €1,300,527.00 in total.

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