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Warning as fraudsters see HSE hack as opportunity to scam people with calls and texts

HSE CEO Paul Reid said fraudsters are “leveraging off the fear” people have around this hack.

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THE PUBLIC HAS been advised to be aware of a number of call and text scams today as fraudsters are taking advantage of the fear around the HSE hack.

The HSE has said other criminals, who are not connected to the HSE ransomware attack, see the hack as an opportunity to try to obtain personal and financial information from people.

Speaking at the HSE’s weekly briefing this afternoon, Dr Anne O’Connor, HSE Chief Operations Officer, said the HSE is aware of calls in different parts of the country and is capturing them to identify whether they relate to a data breach.

“We are hearing about strange calls or strange texts and we are recording those centrally wherever they’re coming from,” she said. Dr O’Connor said if it is determined that they relate to a data breach then it will form part of a criminal investigation.

However the HSE’s CEO Paul Reid said there is “no doubt” that other criminal organisations or fraudsters – who do not actually have access to patient data – are using this as an opportunity, both in Ireland and internationally, to attempt to defraud people.

“The HSE will not be contacting you looking for your PPS number proactively,” Reid said. “If anyone has a suspicion about a phonecall they got purporting to be from the HSE, please do alert gardaí.

Don’t give any confidential information that you have if you have any level of suspicion whatsoever, we’re not in a process right now of proactively contacting patients so most likely it’s not from us. And it is most likely a fraudster attempt.

He said fraudsters are “leveraging off the fear” people have around this hack and potential data breaches and they are contacting people to extract further information.

Separately the Department of Health is also warning people to be aware of scam calls and messages claiming to be from the department. These fraudsters are seeking personal information from the people they contact.

The department said it does not contact people in this way and no one should share their personal information if they are contacted. The public is also advised to let vulnerable family and friends know about these scams.

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