People have been warned to exercise caution with emails from companies regarding data protection legislation that comes into effect from Friday.

Companies have been sending emails to consumers who they have previously communicated with about General Data Protection Regulation.

The GDPR is a new, EU-wide law that gives greater power to regulators to penalise companies who mishandle personal data or are not transparent about how their business uses it.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, a senior member of the Garda National Cybercrime Unit said criminals are using the opportunity to attack unwitting customers.

Detective Superintendent Michael Gubbins said people need to look out for an email from a company they have had no correspondence with before and delete it.

He said that all emails should be real. He also advised that you hover over the link to where you are being redirected before you press enter, so you know where you are being sent. 

Det Supt Gubbins also reminded people that no banks or financial institutions will ever ask you to verify your information via email.

He said that if you have sent this information on already, customers should contact their bank or financial institution before reporting the correspondence to the gardaí.

He said there are about four different things that can happen if you communicate with these fraudsters who claim to be legitimate accounts:

  1. You can be redirected to a fake site that can download your personal information,
  2. You can download malicious malware which could infect your machine,
  3. They will get your personal, private and financial information, and
  4. They can verify that your account is real, which they can sell on to other phising/ marketing companies.