Latest Threats - Security Centre | Ulster Bank

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Latest threats

Stay safe online

Be aware of the latest scams

Fraudsters are increasingly using more elaborate ways of targeting people in attempts to get their access to their accounts.  They may attempt this by telling you not to trust bank staff, by offering exciting 'investment opportunities' or even offer to undertake unsolicited building work on your home, so it's wise to be on your guard and always treat such offers with suspicion.


  1. We will never ask you to enter your full Personal Identification Numner (PIN) or password when logging into online banking
  2. We will never ask you for more information such as your account number, card number or address when logging into online banking (you will need to provide these details only if you are registering or re-registering for online banking)
  3. We never ask you to use your Card Reader when you login to online banking
Report a fraud to us
Common threats and scams
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Email scams

Phishing (pronounced fishing) is a common scam involving emails and fake websites that try to trick people into disclosing sensitive information.

You can report phishing emails to us at


  • We will never send emails asking you to verify, confirm or update your online banking details
  • Protect yourself by downloading our free security software from the financial security experts at Trusteer.
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Threats from software

Trojans are harmful programmes that steal personal information. They can be installed on your computer if you open an infected attachment in a scam email or visit an infected website.

When you try and log in to online banking, if your computer is infected, Trojans may introduce fake additional pages while others will redirect you to a fake website.

Debit card beside a payment terminal

Courier card scams

Typically, a courier card scam involves fraudsters trying to trick you into handing over your PINs, bank cards or cash to a courier. 

They may do this by posing as your bank's fraud department or the National Fraud Authority in an attempt to gain your trust, and claim to need to collect your card via courier to assist in their investigation.

More on courier scams
Card and PIN scams

Fraudsters will sometimes attempt to trick you into handing over your bank cards and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs). This is often known as a courier card scam.

What to look out for

- The scam starts with an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from the bank's fraud department, the police, or National Fraud Authority.

- The caller will claim to have identified fraudulent transactions on your account and that your card has been compromised.

- To gain your trust they may ask you to verify the call by phoning the telephone number printed on the back of your card, or give you another number to call.

- This technique holds your phone line open, so that when you try to dial out, they can intercept and re-answer the call, claiming to be your bank or a law enforcement agency.

- The fraudster will advise that your bank card must be collected to protect your card and assist an investigation. Usually they ask you to put your card into an envelope for a courier to collect and provide you with a fake reference number.

- Now you'll be asked to enter your PIN into the phone, or put it into the envelope with the card. 

- A courier comes to your home and collects the card. With your card and PIN, they can now gain access to your account and carry out fraudulent transactions.

PLEASE NOTE: We may genuinely call you occasionally for fraud prevention purposes to verify whether a transaction is genuine. However, we will NEVER ask to collect your card, for your PIN number, card details or online/telephone banking login credentials.


How to avoid a courier card scam

NEVER hand over your bank card, your PIN, card details or online/telephone banking login credentials.

If you receive a call asking for your PIN, card details or online/telephone banking login credentials, end the call immediately.

With any suspicious or unexpected call, always verify the caller using an independently-checked telephone number and use a different phone line (where possible). Where a second phone line is not available, try calling a friend on the line first. The fraudster will find it difficult to impersonate a voice that is known to you.

Fake anti-virus adverts

Fake anti-virus software (also known as scareware) is often promoted via online adverts which falsely warn users their computer's security has been compromised. They then offer downloadable software that promises to clean up the infected computer. 

As well as paying for this fake software, once it's downloaded it is often used to steal personal information from your computer.

Remember: Protect yourself by using anti-virus software from a reputable company such as Trend, Kaspersky, Panda, Norton or Mcafee.

Offers of one-off payments

Sometimes fraudsters will approach people offering one-off payments or a series of payments in return for their account details. This is because they want to use your account to 'launder' money that's been obtained from illegal activities, without you knowing that they are fraudsters and that what they are asking you to do is illegal. Approaches are normally made by spam emails, adverts on genuine recruitment websites, instant messaging and newspaper adverts.

More about money mules
Money mules

Money mules receive funds into their account which they then withdraw and send overseas using a wire transfer service.


How to avoid becoming a money mule

  • Never respond to this type of request, no matter how attractive the payments may seem
  • Remember that assisting a criminal transfer of money may make you subject to a criminal investigation, which could lead to prosecution
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Advance fee scams Had a letter about a large sum of money?

These scams involve emails or letters sent out offering people a large reward if they help to transfer a large sum of money.

The emails or letters often say the money has come from bribes, government accounts or is unclaimed money from someone who has recently died. They ask you to send your bank details and pay an 'advance fee' to complete the deal. If you pay the advance fee you then don't receive any money in return, and you have no way of getting your money back. 

Man in a coffee shop
Investment scams If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

There are a number of investment scams offering huge potential gains, but in reality the investments may not even exist.

More about investment scams
Investment scams

Ponzi and Pyramid schemes

These schemes promise you high returns or dividends not usually available through traditional investments. The schemes collapse when new investors dry up, and investors usually find most or all of their money is gone.

A Ponzi scheme will ask you to invest in something, whereas a Pyramid schemer encourages you to recruit new investors for a commission. These scams can also be called franchise fraud, multi-level marketing or a chain referral scheme.

Often Ponzi or Pyramid schemes are used when committing Affinity fraud, which occurs when criminals target members of a group – such as community, religious, ethnic, elderly or professional groups. The fraudsters pretend to be members of the group they are targeting sometimes over the course of years, making the scams emotionally as well as financially damaging.


Share sale scams (boiler room fraud)

A Share Scam (also known as Boiler Room Fraud) is a scam that tries to persuade you to invest in what is essentially a worthless scheme, and usually begins with a cold call.

The fraudster will appear professional, knowledgeable and sympathetic, and the company they represent often sounds very similar to a well known financial company.

The shares they attempt to sell you won't be quoted on the stock exchange and will be virtually impossible to sell. You may find when you try to contact the fraudster who sold you the 'shares' they have disappeared, making it near impossible to recover any losses.

Criminals will often cold call victims of Boiler Room Fraud offering to help them recover the money they have lost in an attempt to take more money from them.

If you are unsure or concerned remember to seek independent legal and/or financial advice.


Carbon credit schemes

These schemes are a scam where a firm tries to sell you carbon credit certificates or get you to invest directly in a 'green' scheme that will generate carbon credits as a return on your investment.

Carbon credits are sold and traded legitimately from many reputable firms, however fraudsters have picked up on this, meaning an increased number of firms using dubious, high-pressure sales tactics.


Land banking scams

Fraudsters lead you to believe that you are investing in land that will significantly increase in value. They will tell you:

  • The plots are in areas with high house prices
  • The government intends to increase housing on this land
  • The land has already been allocated for development

Like many investment frauds, Land banking scams often take place through high-pressured telephone calls, although they can be via websites, email, mailings or brochures.

The reality is you are being sold land that has no development potential, doesn't belong to the 'seller' or doesn't even exist.

If you are looking to purchase land:

  • Be sure to always contact the local council of the land
  • Check who owns the land according to the Land Registry
  • Check if the land has planning permission


Tips on some of the things that you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Always seek reputable independent/legal advice before you commit to any investment
  2. Before you hand over any money ensure that the firm you use is on the Central Bank of Ireland's Register and is therefore allowed to give financial advice
  3. The Central Bank of Ireland also maintain a list of unauthorised businesses which is updated regularly. The list details businesses that are believed to be involved in fraudulent activities.
  4. Do your own background research. Does the caller have a proven track record that can be verified by an independent party? You can also check whether the company is registered at Company Registers Office and whether the details held there match those you have been given


Have you been targeted?

If so, these are the steps that you should take:

For reporting urgent matters:

  1. When an immediate police response is required such as when the suspect is very near or the victim is at immediate risk - dial 112
  2. Where a police response is required such as for victim care or the suspect can be easily identified - go into your local Garda station

For reporting investment fraud and scams:

If you are unsure or looking for some independent advice, call the Central Bank of Ireland's advice line on +353 1 2244000.

You should contact your local branch or relationship manager to inform them if they have been involved in a potentially fraudulent transaction.

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Stay safe Hints and tips

Read our hints and tips so you can see how to keep yourself safe, including enabling firewalls, PINs and passwords on your device.

Read our hints and tips
Hints and tips
  • Keep your computer's security up to date and download our free security software
  • Install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it up to date
  • Many such packages include anti-spyware software to stop fraudsters being able to see your personal information
  • Ensure the firewall on your computer is turned on, and that it's set to monitor incoming and outgoing internet traffic, to control the information that enters and leaves your system
Download our free security software Rapport security software
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