Written answers

Thursday, 15 July 2021

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Departmental Communications

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Social Democrats)
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272. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of scam calls reported to her Department in view of the surge in fraudulent calls claiming to be from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39037/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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My Department is aware of many reports that people have received one or more scam calls purporting to be from officials from this Department.

These fraudulent phone calls and text messages claim to be from the Department and are seeking personal information e.g. PPS number / Bank Account details.  Other institutions have also been the target of similar fraudulent phone calls and texts e.g. Banks, Attorney General’s Office, An Post. The recipient of the scam call may or may not be in receipt of a social welfare payment.

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 ask for details such as bank account details over the phone.

In addition, the Department is in regular contact with An Garda Síochána in relation to these scams.  Where personal information has been shared by a member of the public and the Department is made aware of this, appropriate measures are taken to ensure that fraudulent claims are not made.

The Department is continuing to remind people to be alert to possible scam phone calls or scam text messages they may receive from a person claiming to be a Government official. 

This is done via:-

- The Department’s social media channels and includes a video alert from Minister Humphreys.

- All Government Departments have been alerted to the scam and asked to share our social media messages on their social media channels also.

- A notification about such scams is published on the Department’s website.

- Raising staff awareness by placing a notification about such scams on the Department’s internal staff communications site.

- A warning message on the Department’s main phone number that a caller hears immediately on calling the Department.

- A Press Release specifically on these scams & the inclusion of a paragraph about such scams in the weekly PUP press release.

- A public information campaign to raise awareness of fraudulent calls and texts ran from 8 May to 14 May and from 22 May to 28 May.  It featured a 60 second radio ad warning about potential scam calls claiming to be from the Department.  It was broadcast on RTÉ Radio, Newstalk, Today FM, and a wide range of regional radio stations.


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