For Oral Answer on : 29/11/2022
Question Number(s): 73 Question Reference(s): 59210/22
Department: Social Protection
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Social Protection the reason that her Department has an alert notice on its website highlighting the danger of scam phone calls and scam text messages; the extent and impact of such calls; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
My Department is aware of reports that people have received scam calls purporting to be from Departmental officials.
Thankfully there has been a significant decline in the reported instances, from over 1,500 last year to under 120 this year. These scam phone calls and text messages are seeking personal information, e.g. PPS number / Bank Account details.
The focus of the Department’s response has been on the provision of information to the public so that they are aware that these calls are fraudulent, and that the Department would not contact a customer to ask for these personal details by phone or text.
The Department has been in contact with An Garda Síochána in relation to these scams.
In 2021, when these scam calls first came to our attention, the Department alerted people via a number of channels, including:
– A video message from myself, which was published on social media.
– A press release.
– Internal communications to the Department’s staff.
– A multilingual notification on our website.
– A public information campaign which ran in May 2021.
The Department continues to remind people to be fraud aware, as a preventative measure.
I would also like to take this opportunity to urge customers of my Department, who have KBC or Ulster bank accounts to update their payment details through the secure change of payment service on www.MyWelfare.ie. This service is available to customers with a verified MyGovID account. Customers can also provide their new bank account details in writing to the relevant scheme area in my Department. My Department will never contact a customer by phone or text and ask for bank account details.