HSE and Revenue warn of phone scams around Covid-19 vaccinations and wage subsidy

Gardaí have urged people to warn older or vulnerable people not to give out any personal details, especially if they are living alone
HSE and Revenue warn of phone scams around Covid-19 vaccinations and wage subsidy

Anyone who has received a suspicious phonecall has been asked to just hang up. File Picture: Pexels

Members of the public are being warned about several ongoing Covid-19 scams targeting elderly people.

An Garda Síochána, the HSE and the Department of Health say they are aware of several instances where people, who are usually older, are reporting having received suspicious phone calls informing them of a Covid-19 vaccination appointment at a seemingly random Irish hospital, usually not one in their locality.

When the receiver person responds that they cannot travel, they are then asked to give personal details, such as their age and whether or not they live alone.

The caller then offers to come to their home to administer the vaccine.

Gardaí have urged people to be wary of the scam, and to warn any older or vulnerable family members, neighbours and friends not to give out any personal details, especially if they are living alone.

Another similar Covid-19-related scam, this one relating to text messages, is also circulating.

Several people have reported receiving a text, purportedly from the HSE, asking them to confirm their availability for a supposed vaccination appointment. The message asks the receiver to provide a PPS number, date of birth and a home address.

Anyone who has received this message has been asked not to respond to it.

It is not known if the texts and phone calls are part of the same operation. 

The HSE has said they will never text or call individuals requesting personal information and they will never request payment for a Covid test or vaccine, and that local GPs will be the first point of contact about vaccination or testing.

An Garda Síochána, the HSE and the Department of Health have issued the following advice on the scam calls and texts:

  • Do not give out your PPS Number to anyone who makes unsolicited contact with you whether by phone or email
  • The HSE will never call or text you and ask for your PPS number 
  • The HSE will never call you to request your home address 
  • Never give away personal data or disclose who you may live with or if you live alone 
  • The HSE will never request payment for a Covid test or vaccine 
  • If you receive such a call, just hang up 
  • Anyone who mistakenly provides personal information in response to this scam should report the matter to their local Garda Station 
  • If you have questions or concerns relating to Covid testing or vaccination, contact your local GP

Revenue scam

Another scam text message, this one purportedly from Revenue, has also been reported online in recent days. 

Here, the receiver gets a text message informing them of their eligibility for a €350 payment. A shortened url link is provided, and the person is asked to click on it for more information. 

In a statement on the matter, Revenue said it had become aware of fraudulent emails and SMS (text messages) purporting to have come from them. 

"Some of these seek personal information (name, address, date of birth) from taxpayers and/or seek credit card, debit card or bank account details in connection with a tax or wage subsidy refund.

"These emails and text messages did not issue from Revenue.

Revenue Commissioners say they never send emails or text messages requiring customers to send personal information via email, text or pop-up windows.

"Anyone who receives an email or text message purporting to be from Revenue and suspects it to be fraudulent or a scam should simply delete it. Anyone who is actually awaiting a tax or wage subsidy refund should contact their Revenue Office to check its status.

"Anyone who provided personal information in response to these fraudulent emails or text messages should contact their bank or credit card company immediately," the statement added.

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