There has been a rise in fraud and phishing scams from people posing as major state organisations, with the latest being a fraudulent close contact notification falsely claiming to be from the HSE, a Fine Gael TD has reported.
Fine Gael TD for Dublin Mid West, Emer Higgins said: “There is a lot of cold, flu and covid circulating this winter season and fraudsters are preying on that by sending a fake text message to individuals telling them they have been a Covid-19 close contact, before directing the person to a link where they can enter their details to buy mandatory antigen tests.
“People need to be aware that this is a scam,” Deputy Higgins warned.
“There are currently no restrictions on anyone who is a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case and the HSE will never contact you via text to ask you for your bank details or to make you pay for antigen tests.
“Over the last few weeks, I have been made aware of a number of people who have received this fraudulent text and some have unfortunately fallen for it and given away personal information and bank details.
“Once a fraudster has your card details, they may often contact you purporting to be your bank, alerting you to fraudulent activity and looking for further details or the use of a card reader to gain access to your account.
“These criminals have become so sophisticated that they can make the incoming number appear to be that of your bank, but it is so important that if you are in any way suspicious of a call you should hang up and contact your bank yourself to report any potentially fraudulent behaviour.
“The latest CSO figures show that instances of fraud are increasing, with the number of offences rising by 8% last year.
“Gardaí continue to investigate issues of online and digital fraud and organisations like the HSE, An Post and many delivery companies, are engaged in weeding out and reporting scams, but fraudsters can adapt so quickly that it’s almost impossible to stay on top of each new scam.
“The more people that are aware of this particular scam, the less likely they are to fall victim to it. It’s vital to be vigilant and to inform any vulnerable people in our lives who may be easier targets. No one wants to start out 2023 as the victim of a messaging scam,” concluded Deputy Higgins.