As Christmas time approaches, cyber criminals and fraudsters will be waiting in the wings to take advantage of every opportunity they can, such as interceding payments with online shopping, making hoax mobile calls pretending to be from Government departments, financial institutions or the revenue, with the ultimate aim to defraud you, and get access to your personal or financial information and passwords.

Some statistics

According to the Verizon 2021 Data breach Investigations Report, phishing attacks (where fraudsters send emails or texts to trick users into disclosing passwords), were up almost 10% in 2020, while ransomware attacks (such as what happened with the HSE), whereby hackers block access to computer systems until money is paid, more than doubled this year.

According to consultancy firm Ernst & Young (EY) Ireland’s Global Information Security Survey 2021, 90% of Irish businesses have seen a rise in cyber attacks in the last 12 months, and 52% stated they are more exposed to a major breach than they should be. They admitted they require additional investment in their cyber defences.

A French cyber security expert, Mattieu Gorge, believes online retailers are among a group of the most at risk sectors, along with hospitality, healthcare, financial services and operators of critical infrastructure.

A Banking Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) report this month, revealed that over 70% of Irish people are being hit with scam calls, texts and emails, and these have almost doubled over the last year. Irish mobile operators say they are trying to address the issue but have not, as yet, reported any meaningful success.

Some of the scams currently in circulation to watch out for:

  • A call where assistance is being offered to claim a tax rebate.
  • A call from a utility company (such as mobile provider or broadband provider), or a software company offering to “fix” your computer/laptop.
  • A call from a financial provider stating you have unauthorised transactions on your card or account.
  • A text or email asking for a small amount of money to “release” your package from customs, before it can be delivered.
  • A call from the Revenue or the Department of Social Protection telling you that you owe money, for whatever reason.
  • What to do to protect yourself from scams

    Be very vary of unsolicited phone calls or voicemails.

    In all cases, if you suspect a call is fraudulent, hang up and report the call to your own provider of the service, and your local garda station. Block the number on your mobile. If, by any chance you feel you have engaged with the fraudster, unintentionally, be sure to alert your service provider immediately, in particular if you feel it may compromise your financial or personal information. Never divulge private information, such as your name, address, date of birth, family details, PPSNs, bank account numbers, PIN or passwords, unless you are certain who you are speaking to. A bank will never look for your PIN or passwords in a call or text.

    Golden rule:

    If in doubt, hang up (for calls), and think before you click (for all texts and emails).

    Reader query

    Dear Money Mentor,

    I am a dairy farmer and I have recently set up a limited company to operate my dairy farming business. My accountant arranged all the details and registered the company with the Companies Registration Office (CRO). As cybercrime has become so prevalent in Ireland, I am wondering what might be the chances of my details as a company director being compromised or used by fraudsters, to set up a fake Irish company for the purposes of criminality.



    Margaret writes

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for the email. Like you, many dairy farmers in Ireland are now incorporated and operate their farming business through a company structure. All Irish companies are required to have at least one director, and at least one director must be resident in a European Economic Area (EEA). All companies operating in Ireland must be registered with the CRO.

    Unfortunately, some international fraudsters are now engaging in ‘identity theft’ of legitimate company directors in Ireland. What this means is they set up fake companies at the CRO using a legitimate director’s details, without their knowledge or permission. These fraudsters may even use a legitimate and unsuspecting business in Ireland as their own registered address. These cases have been highlighted over the last year to the CRO, but not all cases have been detected. The CRO is the central repository of public statutory information on Irish companies and business names.

    It is not evident if it is the CRO’s role to check if a company director is authentic or not, as its main objectives is the incorporation of companies and the registration of business names. It is also responsible for the receipt and registration of post incorporation documents, and the enforcement of the Companies Act 2014 in relation to the filing obligation of companies. The CRO must also make information available to the public.

    Having contacted the CRO, they confirmed to me it has no role to play in verifying most details submitted to it as a company is formed, or in verifying a director’s details.

    Let’s hope that changes soon.



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