How to avoid scams

What is a scam?

A scam is an illegal or dishonest scheme that aims to steal from or defraud people. Scams target people of all ages and backgrounds through various methods.

Scams aim to trick you into giving away your money, personal or financial details and are becoming more sophisticated.

Scam warnings

You can stay aware of scams using government agency warnings, such as those on the Garda website and the Department of Social Protection (DSP).

Shopping online

Use CheckMyLink to verify the authenticity and safety of online shopping websites.

It is managed by Cyber Skills, in partnership with ScamAdviser and An Garda Síochána. You can check that the website you are using is genuine and free from harmful software by providing the website URL (link).

Common types of scams

Scams come through different channels, such as email, texts, letters, websites and phone calls. Here are some common scam types:

  • Accommodation scams: Fake sites ask for a deposit for non-existent housing.
  • Antivirus software scams: Scammers claim your computer has a virus, install software and demand payment.
  • Charity scams: Fake charities or impersonating real ones to ask for donations.
  • Classified scams: Scammers pose as legitimate sellers on classified websites for fake goods or services.
  • Copycat websites: Unofficial sites mimic government departments or services for a high fee.
  • Door-to-door scams: A door-to-door seller asks for cash upfront for a service that is never provided.
  • Fake ticket scams: Fraudulent tickets or non-existent events.
  • Free trial scams: Deceptive ads that lead to costly membership or subscriptions.
  • Holiday rental scams: Fake sites offering non-existent holidays or villas.
  • Investment scams: Deceptive financial opportunities promising high returns.
  • Loan and credit scams: Upfront fees for guaranteed loans.
  • Malware or ransomware: Scammers install software to access files or demand payment.
  • Mobile phone scams: Premium-rate calls for missed call scams.
  • Phishing emails: Bogus emails trick you into sharing personal and financial information.
  • Prize and lottery scams: Fees required to claim fake prizes.
  • Romance and relationship scams: Fraudsters on dating platforms asking for money, gifts or your personal details.
  • Sextortion: Threats based on false claims of recorded compromising videos.
  • Smishing attacks: Text message scams tricking you into opening malicious links.
  • Social media scams: Scams through social media, including quizzes and false endorsements.

Recognising scams

Some scams are difficult to recognise.

Be cautious of:

  • Unsolicited contacts from a person or company out of the blue
  • Deals that seem too good to be true
  • Requests for personal details
  • Pressure to respond or transfer money quickly
  • Unusual payment methods
  • Vague contact details
  • Misspellings or grammatical mistakes
  • Requests to keep the offer quiet

Protect yourself

Use CheckMyLink to verify the authenticity and safety of online shopping websites.

It is managed by Cyber Skills, in partnership with ScamAdviser and An Garda Síochána. You can check that the website you are using is genuine and free from harmful software by providing the website URL (link).

Other ways to protect yourself

Know who you are dealing with

Research the legitimacy of the company contacting you.

  • Check terms and conditions for clarity
  • Verify contact details, avoiding websites with only a contact form
  • Look for diverse online reviews from reputable sources like Trustpilot

Stay alert

Trust your instinct and question anything that feels off.

  • Be careful of offers that seem too good to be true
  • Avoid clicking or downloading untrusted content
  • Never allow remote access to your personal computer
  • Check website security by looking for the closed padlock symbol and ‘https://’ in the address bar

Protect your personal information

Your personal information is valuable to criminals and can be misused or sold on.

  • Only give personal information in calls you initiated
  • Verify charity legitimacy by calling their official number
  • Be careful of contacts requesting sensitive information
  • Think twice about sharing personal information in an email or when chatting online
  • Think carefully about the personal information you post online
  • If you get a request for personal details, do not respond straight away
  • Never enter personal information on a public computer

Protect your money

  • Never send money by bank transfer unless certain you are sending to a trusted person
  • Always use secure payment methods such as a credit card, debit card or PayPal (that offer a payment protection scheme)
  • Limit online storage of payment information or use a secure digital wallet
  • Keep banking apps updated report suspicious transactions quickly
  • Regularly check and verify transactions on your bank statements

If you have been scammed

If you think you have been scammed, take the following steps immediately:

  • Stop all contact with the scammer
  • Do not make further payments
  • Tell your bank or card provider immediately if you paid by credit card or debit card
  • Report the incident to your local Garda station as a criminal matter
  • Collect records (emails or other communications) related to the scam
  • Secure your devices by resetting passwords and updating anti-virus software
  • Report the incident to consumer protection agencies for advice and to prevent other people scammed

Getting your money back

You might be able to get your money back, depending on what happened and how you paid the scammer.

Unauthorised transaction

If you notice an unauthorised transaction on your account, contact your bank immediately. In most cases, your bank must refund you for unauthorised payments.

Debit card, credit card or PayPal payments

Request a transaction reversal through 'chargeback' from your bank or credit card provider. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has more information about chargeback.

Bank transfer

Act quickly by contacting your bank because bank transfers are difficult to trace.

Money transfer service

It is unlikely you will be able to get your money back if you used a wire service.

Vouchers or gift card

It is unlikely to get money back if you used vouchers or gift cards for payment.

More information

Read more about online safety.

Get advice and information on scam calls and scam texts from the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

The Banking and Payment’s Federation Ireland’s (BPFI) FraudSMART initiative has some useful resources on protecting yourself from fraud.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has information about how to watch out for scams.

Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Bloom House
Railway Street
Dublin 1
D01 C576

Opening Hours: Lines open Monday-Friday, from 9am - 6pm
Tel: (01) 402 5555 and (01) 402 5500

Banking and Payments Federation Ireland

Floor 3
1 Molesworth Street
Dublin 2
D02 RF29

Tel: (01) 671 5311
Page edited: 30 November 2023