When an online bargain sounds too good to be true, it probably is, says Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank has today released the findings of its 2019 ‘Black Friday’ Fraud Survey, which shows that people’s confidence in their ability to stay safe from online scam and frauds is frequently not matched by their online shopping behaviour.

77% of Leinster respondents (excluding Dublin) feel they have taken all the necessary precautions to shop safely online this season. However, one in five (20%) of Leinster adults who shop online admit they would sometimes take a chance on clicking a link if it promised a great deal. Almost one in ten (9%) in Leinster claim to have shared their online banking Pin or password with someone.

Ahead of ‘Black Friday’ 29 November, Ulster Bank is reminding everyone to be more aware of the prevalence of fraud and scams, and how important it is before the final purchase click to pause and consider if the bargain is too good to be true.  The Bank has also partnered with cyberpsychologist Dr. Ciarán Mc Mahon to help spot the danger signs of a scam and shop safely online.

The reminder comes as the Bank marks the first anniversary of its innovative ‘Friends Against Scams’, an initiative to help spread the scam protection message to customers, family and friends. In its first year, the programme has benefitted thousands of bank customers and consumers, through activities such as conversations in branch, financial education events led by Ulster Bank’s team of Community Bankers and through the work of the Bank’s Customer Protection Advisor, Denise Cusack.

The report also confirms the popularity of ‘Black Friday’ which has now become a fixture in Irish online shopping. Over half (51%) of Leinster online shoppers plan to spend the same or more online this Black Friday than last, with only a quarter (27%) saying they will not be participating.

Among the other key findings of the online shopping survey were:

·         Nearly two-thirds of Leinster respondents (64%) shop online at least once a month;

·        Nearly four out of ten Leinster online shoppers (39%) claim they quite often /sometimes click on links without really thinking if they’re secure or not;

·       Almost six out of ten Leinster adults (58%) who shop online claim they would not be that embarrassed to admit to their family or friends that they were a victim of online fraud;

·       22% of Leinster online shoppers claim that it has been longer than a year since they last changed their online passwords, with a further 18% claiming it has been longer than six months since they last changed their passwords;

·       32% of Leinster respondents claim that it’s been a year or longer since they have reviewed /updated the software security on their laptop, tablet or PC.

Ulster Bank’s Community Protection Advisor, Denise Cusack said:

“It’s hugely positive that we’re seeing a majority of respondents saying that they would not be embarrassed to admit to have been scammed or defrauded. We’ll all become safer and more knowledgeable when people are comfortable in talking about their experiences with scams.  To that end, we’re urging any Ulster Bank customers who have a suspicion or indeed if they realise that they have been scammed to please contact us, in your local branch or online. 

“At Ulster Bank it’s our job to ensure we keep our customers, colleagues, friends and families aware of financial scams to help them stay safe and secure.  One of the most effective ways for us to stay safe is by chatting within our own network of friends and families.  Ulster Bank’s ‘Friends Against Scams’ is an initiative designed to educate our frontline colleagues on the most common scams and associated red flags, so that they in turn can keep our customers safe and secure.

“Last week we celebrated the first anniversary of ‘Friends Against Scams’ and we’re pleased with what has been achieved so far. In its first year, the programme has benefitted thousands of bank customers and consumers, through activities such as conversations in branch, financial education events led by our Community Bankers and my programme of consultations with customers.  Through ‘Friends Against Scams’, we’re determined to have a positive impact on colleagues and our communities in the coming year.”

Commenting on the survey results, cyberpsychologist Dr. Ciarán Mc Mahon said:

“The Black Friday phenomenon is all about the chance to bag a bargain before a deadline. However, academic research shows that when faced with time pressures, we often make decisions that are more emotional and less analytical. Scammers are hoping that we will drop our guard so let’s make it as difficult as possible for them.

“Similarly, academic research indicates that many people mistakenly assess their abilities as significantly better than they actually are. This is reflected in the survey results, where a large majority of respondents feel they have taken enough precautions yet admit to engaging in risky behaviours.

“Cybercrime is an increasingly sophisticated enterprise, but scammers have deadlines too. Consumers can slow them down by simply stopping to think: is this deal too good to be true?”

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