All Ulster Bank staff are to receive ‘Friends Against Scams’ training to help customers to avoid fraudsters and keep their money safe. The training will be completed by all staff this year and will benefit customers and non-customers across the country. The ‘Friends Against Scams’ initiative was started in the UK to help organisations to train staff and spread the anti-fraud message.

The announcement comes as Ulster Bank today released the findings of its 2018 Fraud Survey, which sought views on a range of issues including banking habits, attitudes to data security and personal information, and knowledge of the different types of fraud.

The survey found that there’s been a significant increase in the proportion of those in Connacht/Ulster who claim to have been a victim of identity theft, up from 7% in 2017 to 15% in 2018.

Among the other key findings of the survey were:

  • 59% of adults in Connacht/Ulster claim to shred all their financial correspondence, with only 6% throwing it in the main bin with the household waste.
  • 89% of adults in Connacht/Ulster say that they regularly monitor their own account for unusual activity and 64% of adults in Connacht/Ulster claim to have anti-virus software on all of their devices.
  • 64% of adults in Connacht/Ulster know what malware is and are able to identify an email containing malware.
  • 77% of adults in Connacht/Ulster cover the keypad when inputting their PIN at the ATM, while almost 9 in 10 (87%) adults in Connacht/Ulster would rate their online password(s) as being quite strong.
  • Over half (51%) of adults in Connacht/Ulster claim that they can’t keep track of the number of online passwords they use.

    The survey comes ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, during which 36% of adults in Connacht/Ulster plan to shop online.

    Commenting on the survey results, Ciarán Coyle, Managing Director, Retail Banking, Ulster Bank said;

    “Friends Against Scams training has being incredibly beneficial to our colleagues and customers in the UK and now our staff and customers in Ireland will experience the benefits of the programme. We want to arm our staff and our customers with the information and the means to defend themselves against a scammer. This initiative will strengthen the work already underway by Ulster Bank’s team of Community Bankers around the country and our Community Protection Advisor.


    “It’s reassuring to see that well over half (59%) of Connacht/Ulster respondents to this year’s Ulster Bank Fraud Survey say they are fairly confident that they could detect a potential scam. That’s up from 55% in 2017. However the research also shows that under a quarter of respondents in Connacht/Ulster (23%) say they’re very confident that they know what kind of security information their bank may ask them for. That’s down from almost a third (31%) in 2017. At Ulster Bank we want to play our part in ensuring customers are kept as safe and secure as possible, regardless of how they bank with us. That is why we have robust monitoring in place to protect customers and are taking steps to help educate us all even further about how customers can protect themselves too.”

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

    “Every day I travel around the country meeting customers and community groups to provide support to those who have been the victim of a fraud or a scam. I see first hand the financial and emotional distress that can be caused and I know how important awareness and education are if we are to prevent this. It’s good to see that many people are taking steps to protect themselves, with 89% of people in Connacht/Ulster saying that they regularly monitor their account for unusual activity and 64% having anti-virus software on all of their devices.


    “If we are to reduce the number of people falling victim to scams we all need to do more to educate and protect ourselves. The rise in identity theft revealed by this research is particularly worrying. I would advise people to take steps to protect your own data online or over the phone, and to always destroy all documents containing your personal data, rather than just discarding them with the rest of your rubbish. If you do encounter suspicious behaviour, remember to contact our dedicated fraud and scams team immediately.”


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