eFlow Scam Alert: Don’t Fall for Fraudulent Messages, Warns Consumer Watchdog

“eFlow Impersonation Scam: Motorway Toll Operator Warns Public of Text Message Fraudsters”

Scammers are targeting Irish citizens with text messages posing as eFlow, the motorway toll operator. These smishing scam texts claim that individuals owe toll charges and direct them to click on a link to pay the outstanding balance. However, the website is fraudulent and aims to collect victims’ bank account details. Bank of Ireland has reported that up to 10 new fake eFlow sites are being created by fraudsters each day. This wave of smishing attacks, which has lasted for several months, is unusual. The bank anticipates that fraudsters will increase their activity and clone other well-known Irish brands in the coming months, particularly electricity and gas companies.

Nicola Sadlier, Head of Fraud at Bank of Ireland, highlights the ease with which people can be deceived by this type of scam. If individuals have recently passed through a toll, they may be more inclined to click on the text message, believing it to be legitimate. However, eFlow has advised that they do not send text messages with links to confirm account or payment details. Sadlier advises treating text messages purporting to be from any company with extreme caution and following the general rule of stopping, thinking, and checking.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) provides signs to watch out for to determine if a text message is genuine or fraudulent. Smishing texts often try to alarm recipients by claiming they need to take urgent action to avoid negative consequences. For example, individuals may receive a text message from their bank stating that their bank card, account, or online access has been blocked or frozen due to unusual activity or fraudulent transactions. The text will include a link to a fake website where victims are asked to enter their personal information and bank account details. The CCPC advises consumers to never click on a link within a text or call a number provided in a text. Instead, they should call businesses using known genuine phone numbers, such as those printed on bank cards. If individuals suspect a text message may be a scam, they should delete it immediately and contact the organization named to verify its authenticity. If someone has responded to a smishing text and provided their bank account details, they should notify their bank or card issuer immediately and report the incident to their local Garda station.

FraudSMART, the fraud awareness initiative led by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), reports that fraudsters stole nearly €45m through frauds and scams in the second half of 2021, a 50% increase compared to the previous year. Debit and credit card fraud, including ATM fraud, reached €14.5m, the highest level since the first half of 2017. The majority of this increase was driven by online card fraud or “card not present” transactions. Unauthorised electronic payment fraud, including credit transfers and direct debits, rose to €21.5m, reflecting a significant increase in online and mobile banking fraud. Additionally, consumers lost €7.6m through authorised push payments, a slight decrease from the previous year. Niamh Davenport, Head of Financial Crime at BPFI, emphasizes that fraudsters are continuously updating and adapting their tactics and tools to deceive online users.

In conclusion, Irish citizens are being targeted by scammers using smishing text messages posing as eFlow. These fraudulent messages claim that individuals owe toll charges and direct them to a fake website to pay the balance. Bank of Ireland warns that multiple fake eFlow sites are being created daily. It is crucial for individuals to be cautious and verify the authenticity of any text message they receive. The CCPC provides signs to watch out for and advises against clicking on links or calling numbers provided in suspicious texts. If someone falls victim to a smishing scam, they should immediately contact their bank or card issuer and report the incident to the local Garda station. FraudSMART reports a significant increase in fraud and scams, with fraudsters continuously adapting their tactics. It is essential for individuals to stay vigilant and protect themselves from falling victim to these schemes.