Holidaymakers warned over complex scams after almost €100m stolen last year

Many at risk of being enticed by ‘unbelievable’ holiday deals and letting guard down when out of regular routines and environments, says banking federation

Irish holidaymakers at home and abroad have been warned to be on alert for “complex and deceptive” scams this summer following a surge in fraudulent activity recorded last year.

According to new data from a banking umbrella group, fraudsters stole almost €100 million from Irish consumers last year – an increase of 16 per cent on 2022.

The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) warned people to be “extra vigilant” this summer, particularly when booking trips and paying for other holiday expenses.

“We can all be at risk of being enticed by ‘unbelievable’ holiday deals and letting down our guard when out of our regular routines and environments,” said the BPFI’s head of financial crime, Niamh Davenport.

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She said debit and credit cards remain “one of the safest forms of payment” that “come with extensive fraud protections”, but warned that “fraudsters are increasingly targeting consumers using complex and deceptive methods”.

She urged people to be cautious when booking travel, accommodation and other holiday-related purchases, such as eating out.

“Also, be alert for fake emails and social media ads offering holiday deals which appear to be offering bargain prices but are in reality too good to be true,” Ms Davenport said.

She said people needed to “watch out for copycat websites offering holiday accommodation and packages which closely mimic a legitimate site or well-known company brand but may have subtle differences in the website name and often have spelling errors”.

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According to the payment fraud report from the BPFI published on Thursday morning, €98.6 million was lost by Irish people to fraudsters last year.

Card fraud accounted for 95 per cent of fraudulent transactions, which amounted to a total of €35.2 million, or 36 per cent of the losses.

While other types of fraud had lower volumes, they saw more money being lost by consumers.

Unauthorised electronic transfers, where criminals steal victims’ mobile or online banking details and spend and transfer money without the account holder’s authorisation, accounted for only 3 per cent of the volume, but 34 per cent, or €33.8 million, of the losses.

Authorised push payment fraud, which happen when fraudsters trick consumers into sending money directly to an account controlled by the criminal through activity such as an investment or romance scam, makes up just 1 per cent of fraudulent transactions, but more than €18 million in losses, a significant increase compared with 2022 in both volume and value terms.

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