How to Recognise Phone Scams


Why are phone scams so tricky to avoid?

Until recently it was easy enough to avoid being caught out by a phone scam simply by not picking up calls from numbers that you didn’t recognise. Recently though, criminals have found ways to mimic genuine phone numbers, so it looks like the call is coming in from a legitimate bank or other company.

So how else can you tell real from fake?

Start by listening to what they are asking you to do. Are they making it sound urgent? Are they threatening to take drastic action like shutting down your bank account if you don’t provide them with your password or login? That’s an immediate red flag and you should just hang up the phone; no legitimate company will ever ask you to reveal banking information like passwords or PINs over the phone.

But what if they sound genuine?

Well, the reality is that they could be genuine, but it always pays to be cautious. Ask them for their name and say that you will ring them back once you’ve checked the number of the organisation on a website or phone book. If they seem reluctant to do this, there’s another red flag right there. If they agree readily, proceed with caution because they can often hold the phone line open while you think that you’ve hung up and are dialling into a different call. So ideally, use a different phone to make that call.

Or if that’s not possible, wait at least ten minutes before you use the phone they called you on.


What’s the worst that can happen?

Criminals who make calls like these are really clever at playing on people’s fears and use subtle tricks to make you give out more information than you think. They might for example ask you “Can you give me the 1st, 2nd and 5th number of your passcode, please?” And as soon as you tell them they will quickly follow that up with, “Sorry, I meant to say the 3rd, 4th and 6th.” All done in such a rush that it’s very easy to hand over your full six digit code without even realising.

The problem is that they are counting on a percentage of people taking the call when they’re busy with something else, or stressed about work, or even late for the theatre and being distracted enough to hand over valuable information without thinking. And because they make so many calls, even if the percentage that fall for the ruse is tiny, it can be very profitable.

At AIB we’re supporting our customers to help avoid scams and frauds, so if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam or fraud, please call us as soon as you can.

AIB ROI 0818 724 724 or +353 1 771 2424

09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Sunday

Allied Irish Bank NI 028 9034 6034

09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Sunday

Allied Irish Bank GB 028 9034 6060

09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Sunday