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IPSO warns of growing phone card fraud scam targeting the over-60s

IPSO warns cardholders about an old-style phone scam that is increasingly being used by fraudsters here and in the UK. The scam involves unsuspecting cardholders receiving a phone call, being duped into handing over their debit or credit card and revealing their PIN to a fraudster pretending to be from their bank, card company or the Gardaí. Just this year alone, more than £750,000 has been stolen through this type of fraud in the UK, with the criminals responsible stealing an average of £10,000 per incident. Figures are currently being measured for Ireland but it is feared there are similar losses being experienced here.

The scam occurs when a fraudster phones an individual, typically claiming to be from the prospective victim’s bank, and saying either that their systems have flagged a fraudulent transaction on their card or that their card is due to expire and needs to be replaced. By appearing to offer assistance, the fraudster tries to gain the victim’s trust. In most cases the victim is then asked to ‘activate’ or ‘authorise’ the replacement card in advance by keying their PIN into their phone’s handset.

The fraudster or an accomplice then poses as a bank representative or a courier to pick up the customer’s card from them at their home, sometimes also giving the victim a replacement card which is a bogus. In some cases a genuine courier company is hired to pick up the card, which the victim has been asked to place in an envelope. Once they have the victim’s card and the PIN the fraudster uses both to withdraw cash from an ATM.
Top tips to avoid this scam:

  • Cardholders should be aware that their bank would never call around to pick up a payment card
  • Banks will never ask their customer to ‘authorise’ anything by entering their PIN into the telephone.
  • Cardholders should never share their PIN with anyone

Úna Dillon, Head of IPSO Card Services and Communications with IPSO said “Cardholders should never provide their payment card to someone who turns up on the doorstep. Likewise, consumers should never give anyone their PIN or ever key in the PIN on the phone as a result of someone calling out-of-the-blue – wherever they claim to be from. If cardholders are suspicious when approached in this way they should hang up the phone and call the bank or organisation back on a phone number they know to be correct, e.g. from a bank statement. If consumers think they have already been a victim of this scam, they should contact their bank or card company immediately.”