If you hear or read the words “My bank account has changed.” you need to be on your guard. This is a massive red flag and is a fairly good indication that somebody is about to try to scam you.
What’s so dodgy about “My bank account has changed”?
You see Irish people don’t change bank accounts at all. If it does occur, it is a rare event, which is why there is a greater chance that it’s a scam.
Do you remember when Ulster Bank had massive IT failures in 2012 and 2015? People were unable to receive wages/salaries, pay bills, mortgages, etc. FOR WEEKS! Yet, when the dust had eventually settled, only a tiny percentage of people switched bank accounts away from them.
So even after a bank has performed terribly at customer service, people still are reluctant to change from them. So it is a very rare event here. Apparently it is quite frequent in Europe, but their banks are likely more focussed on customers than our lot.
So if somebody, who appears to be a client or supplier, contacts your business and says that they have changed bank account, then you need to be on alert and go through some steps to verify the new account (below).
By the way, this can also happen with salaries and wages. A scammer might impersonate an employee and give new bank account details to the payroll people.
Wait a minute, aren’t there some bank closures happening?
Indeed yes. For the next six months or so, there is going to be a MASSIVE number of bank accounts being changed in this country, with over 1 million accounts affected by the Ulster Bank and KBC bank closures. So there are a lot of legitimate accounts being changed.
This doesn’t mean you should drop your guard. You need to vigilant. My normal advice still stands on this. It is more important now though, as you can be sure that the criminals are going to take advantage of the confusion caused by this huge volume of change.
How do I protect myself from being scammed?
So, if someone contacts you and says the magic words “Our bank account has changed.”, do the following:
- Get them to send you a scan of the top part of bank statement with bank address, account name, customer address and IBAN.
- Make an outgoing phone call to the finance or admin person at that company, using a trusted telephone number (perhaps from their website).
- Ask them to tell you their IBAN – don’t provide it to them.
- Only then change your payment system.
Let’s be careful out there.
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