Bank of Ireland will reimburse customers affected by ‘smishing’ scams

11 Aug 2020

Image: Bank of Ireland

Bank of Ireland has promised to reimburse account holders affected by ‘smishing’ after some customers lost thousands of euros.

Bank of Ireland customers who unwittingly handed over their account details to online fraudsters are set to be reimbursed for lost funds. It is estimated that around €800,000 was stolen from up to 300 account holders in a recent text scam.

Reports of the ‘smishing’ scam were raised back in June, with Gardaí warning that text messages purporting to be from Bank of Ireland were asking customers for account details.

The message claimed that the customer’s Bank of Ireland card had been used by scammers and that they must follow a link, which sent them to a bogus website. The victim was then asked to submit their PIN and account details, which were then used by the scammers to steal thousands of euro from the accounts.

In a statement, Gavin Kelly, CEO of Retail Ireland at Bank of Ireland, said: “Smishing has been around for a long time, but there has been a spike in attacks since Covid-19, with fraudsters clearly recognising an opportunity to target consumers as we spent more time using phones and computers.”

Fraud awareness campaign launch

Kelly went on to say that the bank has carried out a review of the recent smishing attacks and acknowledged that “fraudsters have been particularly active during this period” while consumers have had “many other pressing concerns to deal with through Covid-19”.

“Therefore we will be reimbursing the customers for these losses and the bank will absorb the financial impact,” Kelly said. “If anyone has any suspicions on fraud, we have a 24/7 freephone line to support customers.”

Smishing – which is a portmanteau of SMS and phishing – has targeted a number of Irish institutions in the past, such as the Revenue Commissioners back in 2017. The seriousness of this recent scam targeting Bank of Ireland customers was raised by callers to RTÉ’s Liveline show, where some claimed to have lost as much as €20,000.

As well as confirming that affected customers will be reimbursed, Bank of Ireland said it is launching a nationwide fraud awareness campaign that will advise account holders on how to spot and protect themselves from smishing scams.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic