How to Spot Fraud and Stay Safe Online

Published on 7 June 2023

With each passing day, it seems as though fraudsters and scammers are coming up with new ways to trick unsuspecting victims into giving over their personal and financial details.

However, there are steps you can take to become more vigilant when it comes to fraudulent communications. Below, we look at two of the most common routes fraudsters and scammers use: email and phone.




The most common way that fraudsters target potential victims is by sending fake emails that look like they’re from a reputable company. The emails will urge you to click on a link and enter your personal and financial details into a fake website that will look like a genuine website.

The emails tend to impart a sense of urgency asking you to “verify”, “update” or “reactivate” your account. It may indicate that something is wrong and if you don’t act immediately, it will have negative consequences. For example, an email might state that money will be lost or that there is fraud on your account. The fraudsters don’t want to give you time to research or investigate if the email is legitimate.

Sometimes the email will promise you money, asking you to fill in your details for a refund, a credit or for an unexpected lottery win or job opportunity.

Some fraudulent emails may include a link or attachment that when clicked on, downloads malicious software (malware) onto your PC or device. Some types of malware can track your online activity and therefore are able to record and pass your financial, personal or security information to the fraudster.

This allows them to steal money from your account or use your details for other criminal activities.

Key Advice for Emails

  1. Don’t respond to any email asking for financial, personal or security information unless you independently verify that the email came from the company it claims to be from.
  2. Never give away security details, such as your PIN or full online banking password to anyone.
  3. Never click on a link or attachment in an email until you have verified it is from the source it says it is from.
  4. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  5. Be suspicious if asked for card/security details via email. Remember: Card issuers and banks will never ask for full account, card, PIN or security credentials.




The second most common way for fraudsters to target potential victims of fraud is by contacting you by phone or text pretending to be from a reputable company such as a bank, card issuer, utility company or a computer company. During the conversation or via text, they’ll try to trick you into giving them personal, financial or security information or into making a money transfer.

Again, the message will be one of urgency, such as asking you to “verify”, “update” or “reactivate” your account. You’ll likely be told that either money will be lost or that there is fraud on your account – tactics employed to keep you from checking their legitimacy.

Like emails, some fraudulent text messages will include a link or attachment that when clicked on downloads malicious software (mobile malware) onto your phone. The fraudster then uses the information to steal money from your account, carry out unauthorised card transactions or to carry out other criminal activities.

Key Advice

  1. Be very wary of unsolicited phone calls or voicemails.
  2. Never divulge personal information until you have validated that the caller is a genuine representative of the organisation they claim to represent. You can do this by following a number of steps:
    • Take the caller’s number and advise them that you’ll call them back once you have validated their identity.
    • Look up the organisation’s phone number (by using the phone book or their website) and make contact directly with them to validate.
    • Do not validate the caller using a phone number they have given you (this could be a fake number).
    • If the caller is genuine, they’ll understand and welcome your need to validate them.
  3. Don’t respond to a text/SMS messages seeking financial, personal or security information unless you independently verify that the text came from the company it claims to be from.
  4. Fraudsters may already have basic information about you in their possession (e.g., name, address, account details). Do not assume that a caller is genuine because they have these details or because they claim to represent an organisation you deal with.
  5. Remember that it takes two people to terminate a phone call. You can use a different phone line to independently check the caller’s identity.
  6. Your bank or the Gardaí /Police will never ask for the following:
    • Your credit or debit card PIN number or full online banking password.
    • Request you withdraw money to hand over to them or transfer money to another account, even if they say it is in your name.
    • Come to your home to collect your cash, payment card or cheque book.


Looking for More Information?


Further information on fraud and how you can protect yourself is available by visiting

And if you’re looking for advice on how to better protect your property, check out our article on Smart Technology to Secure Your Home.