Bank Of Ireland Warning Over New Online Purchase Scam

The Bank of Ireland has issued a warning over a new wave of purchase scams, which attempts to lure people to make payments for good and services through a fake online advertisement.

From relatively low value items such as clothes and trainers, through to holiday home deposit payments and even for cars, consumers are often lured in by the false promise of a slashed price or bargain and asked to pay directly, sending money from their bank account to another via bank transfer, providing little protection to the payment being made. Once the payment is transferred, the seller usually cuts all contact, and the good or service never arrives.

In the last year according to industry data, there has been a 34% increase in purchase scams, with consumers falling for a purchase scam every 3 minutes in 2023.

Providing practical advice for consumers Joanne Duncan, Head of Financial Crime at Bank of Ireland, said: "Fraudulent advertisements online and on social media channels have been the subject of warnings for some time and despite increased public awareness we continue to see consumers getting caught out by the fraudsters. These ads should be caught before they are published online, but many are not and supervision of this continues to be inconsistent.

"We encourage consumers to report fake ads to the relevant website, search engine or social media channel, but we know that often the ads will continue to run for some time after they are reported, if they are taken down at all. It's unacceptable to see fraudsters operating so openly through online advertisements. No company should be generating advertising revenue from criminals – search engines, websites and social platforms really need to step up and crack down.
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"Our advice to consumers when buying online is clear – Stop, Think, Check before making a payment. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be suspicious and keep your guard up."

Bank of Ireland's advice in response to the current wave of purchase scams:

• Research and read reviews to check the site and the seller are genuine.

• Be alert to suspicious red flags, such as poor grammar and spelling, or vague product descriptions.

• Always open the website you're buying from by typing it into your web browser – links in unsolicited emails or on social media are not always safe and should be avoided.

• Use secure payment methods, try and pay by debit or credit card, or the secure payment method recommended by reputable online retailers and auction sites, as this could give you more protection.

• Never agree to buying vouchers or other items for someone as a way to pay for something else.

• Always physically view large purchases in person, not online prior to making a small deposit payment for them.  Final payment should be made upon collection.

• If people suspect they have been a victim of a fraud they should contact their bank immediately to see if action can be taken to stop a fraud in progress and try to recover funds. Bank of Ireland customers can contact our in-house fraud team 24/7, on Freephone 0800 121 7790.

Bank of Ireland is hosting a series of fraud awareness events in branches across Northern Ireland, where its fraud and security teams will provide advice to members of the public and business owners on the latest fraud trends in circulation and tips on how to safeguard their finances. Upcoming events are scheduled throughout May and June in Omagh, Magherafelt, Lurgan, Newry and Coleraine, with further events to be announced soon.

For the full listing of fraud awareness events as well as advice and information on protecting your account fraud visit the Security and Fraud page on the Bank of Ireland UK website.

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