Bank of Ireland warns of fraud risk as KBC and Ulster Bank move out

17 May 2022

Image: © fizkes/

Phishing and other scams may be on the rise as KBC and Ulster Bank customers look for new banks this year, according to Bank of Ireland.

Two of Ireland’s major banks, Ulster Bank and KBC, are exiting the Irish market this year and leaving more than a million people looking for a new place to bank.

During this time of transition, Bank of Ireland is warning the public to be on high alert for fraud as criminals seek to take advantage of the mass movement.

Consumers should expect an increase in scam calls, texts and emails from fraudsters over the coming months, Bank of Ireland warned in an advisory this week.

“We know that periods of major change or uncertainty create ideal conditions for fraudsters to operate. The rise in fraud recorded during Covid 19 and Brexit demonstrates this,” said Edel McDermott, group head of fraud at Bank of Ireland.

McDermott added that the number of phishing websites detected by Bank of Ireland’s fraud prevention team “doubled in one month alone in 2021” and that, at its peak, the team saw 70 new fraudulent websites popping up each day.

Changing banks means that customers will also have to update their direct debits and standing order payments for utilities and other companies, creating a golden opportunity for fraudsters who have increasingly been on the prowl since the pandemic started.

“The current mass movement of customers between banks creates ideal conditions for criminals,” McDermott said.

“As customers make arrangements to move their bank accounts and make changes to their direct debits and standing orders, they will be expecting communications from a whole range of providers.”

Bank of Ireland is advising the public to independently verify messages or calls that ask for personal information, account details or warning of the cancellation of important payments – and not to fall prey to a false sense of urgency induced by fraudsters.

With Ulster Bank and KBC departing the Irish market, other banks, both traditional and digital, will be looking to increase their share of customers.

So far this year, Bank of Ireland has opened double the number of personal current accounts compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, neobanks such as Revolut and more recently Bunq are finding ways to woo Irish customers with a fintech approach to banking.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic