| -0.3°C Belfast

Fraudsters target people left unemployed over Covid-19 outbreak

People have been tricked into handing over personal details.

Close

A person using a mobile phone (Lauren Hurley/PA)

A person using a mobile phone (Lauren Hurley/PA)

A person using a mobile phone (Lauren Hurley/PA)

The Irish government has warned of scammers contacting members of the public asking for their bank account details amid the coronavirus crisis.

A number of people have been tricked into giving personal details to fraudsters who are purporting to be from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

The scammers are targeting people who have lost their jobs over the Covid-19 outbreak.

Elizabeth Canavan, assistant secretary in the Department of the Taoiseach, said: “You will not get a phone call asking for your bank details from the government.

“In addition, people who are in receipt of social welfare payments will move from a weekly payment to every two weeks.

“This will minimise the need to visit the Intreo offices and the Department of Social Protection will be giving out some further messaging on this in the coming days.”

She also said that visa applications for foreign nationals are being received and processed online with 7,000 applicants being contacted about the change.

It comes as the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service on Burgh Quay in Dublin temporarily closed its doors on Friday to avoid people going to the offices.

The Government also said that around 8,0000 people have applied to become volunteers to help others and vulnerable people throughout the Covid-19 outbreak.

Ms Canavan also warned that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has raised concerns about products being advertised that are not fit for purpose, particularly around hand sanitiser and surgical masks.

The products, which are in high demand, are being sold online and on social media.

On Monday, Bank of Ireland announced it is temporarily closing 101 branches from Tuesday.

It said that around 160 branches will remain open.

The decision, it said, comes after a reduction in footfall across the country.

Ms Canavan said the Government has urged the bank to be “mindful” about regional, rural and older customers.

PA