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Property Tax helpline staff member investigated over alleged card fraud

An operator on the line has been suspended after unnecessarily asking customers for their credit card details.

Image: easyshutter via Shutterstock

Updated, 21:02

A WORKER on the telephone helpline for the Local Property Tax has been suspended, amid allegations that they inappropriately asked callers for their credit card details and then used them to attempt inappropriate transactions.

The worker is suspected of having asked callers for their credit card details, even though it was unnecessary for callers to give them.

Abtran, a Cork-based company which operates the helpline on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners, said the procedure had emerged on Thursday evening.

When managers listened back to recordings of the calls taken by that operator, it emerged that 11 callers’ card details had been solicited unnecessarily.

Abtran said it understood that the worker involved had attempted “to effect transactions”, but had failed to do so.

It added that both matters were now the subject of investigation, and that the Gardaí had met and interviewed the worker in question on Friday morning. The worker was suspended immediately.

The company added that the incident did not involve access to electronic payment systems, which had remained secure, and that the worker had instead used a pen and paper to transcribe the details offered by the callers.

“Over the weekend advanced call recording and reporting systems have been used to immediately identify the customers affected and the Gardaí have contacted the credit card companies of these customers,” it said.

“The company has identified that this is an isolated matter relating to a single individual only,” it added, saying it did not have access to any Revenue systems, and that its telephone line for operating credit card payments of the tax was in a “secure, ring-fenced environment”.

Revenue offers five-point checklist for worried customers

In a separate statement, the Revenue Commissioners said it was “extremely concerned” to learn of the issue, but said it was satisfied that no cardholder had suffered any loss.

“Because all calls to the LPT Helpline are recorded, sophisticated call management and recording systems have been interrogated to seek to identify any other similar risks,” it said.

“Abtran has assured Revenue in that regard and the Commissioners are satisfied that the company is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness.”

Revenue offered a five-point check-list for customers who paid their tax over the helpline, to ensure that their transaction was correctly handled:

  • Did they select the “on-line payment” option from the menu or, if not, were they transferred from a first agent to a second agent before giving payment details?
  • Were they asked for their personal and property details?
  • Were they asked for their payment details?
  • Were they asked to confirm and declare that all their details were correct?
  • Did they, within 2 weeks of filing, receive acknowledgement of their payment from Revenue?

It said customers who could answer ‘Yes’ to all five questions had no need for concern.

Any customer with concerns about their payment can contact a dedicated Revenue number, 1890 22 63 36, from 9am tomorrow. This is a separate helpline and is not the one operated by Abtran.

A Garda spokesman stressed that no arrests had been made. The Data Protection Commissioner has been informed.

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Gavan Reilly

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