Six in ten people are worried about being targeted by online fraudsters and more than four in ten people feel more exposed to such fraud threats since Covid-19 hit, according to Bank of Ireland research by Red-C which is published today.

The bank and hundreds of its customers were at the centre of a smishing scam earlier this year.

Over several days last April customers voiced concern to RTÉ's Liveline about the bank’s handling of the issue.

Today, Bank of Ireland is launching a fraud awareness campaign which will run from now until Christmas.

Covid-19 restrictions are believed to be behind a surge in online spending.

This week Revolut, which provides online financial services, said online has overtaken physical spending for the first time in Ireland.

Since the start of this month, 51% of consumer spending has been transacted over the internet, according to Revolut.

Consumers’ fears about being targeted by fraudsters are well founded. There has been an increase in such scams over recent months, as consumers move online in greater numbers, so do criminals.

Smishing is one of the most common scams. It involves fraudsters sending an email or text message containing a link, which is an attempt to gather banking details.

Those details are then used to transfer funds out of consumer bank accounts. Gardaí say much of the money stolen ends up being used to fund crime and terrorist organisations.

Banks, delivery companies, retailers, Government departments and even the National Lottery have all being targeted by smishing attempts.

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One consumer has told RTÉ News about his experience. Andrei Sacara lives in Dublin with his family, on a quiet Saturday evening in September he received a text managed, which appeared to be from his bank. It even appeared in a text message thread containing legitimate messages from the bank.

"I thought it is Saturday night, if I do not do anything about this, the transaction could be gone through by Monday, looking at the phone number and seeing it was genuine and in the past I had a message from that number, I said ok, the bank is trying to help me here," said Mr Sacara.

"I provided all my details, all my details, card details everything, I got caught within two minutes."

He followed the instructions and unknowingly he transferred €1,700 out of his own bank account to fraudsters. He thought he was taking steps to cancel the transaction.

He feels silly now, but he is one of thousands of people to do the same thing. He describes himself as, "a very cautious guy, I am always checking things", but on this occasion he was stung.

His bank returned the money within days, but he feels so bad about it still, his overriding observation now is that he doesn't want anyone else to experience the same thing, "it was one of the worst feelings, it was like the sky was coming down on your head, I don’t want anyone else to experience a feeling like that, regardless if it is €100 or €1,700 it is just the feeling that you got scammed and the fact that someone is taking advantage of you".