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New social welfare identity cards to be issued next week

Dept of Social Protection says new cards will combat fraud by making it harder for people to use false identities to claim payments.

A mock-up of the new identity cards.
A mock-up of the new identity cards.
Image: Department of Social Protection

THE DEPARTMENT of Social Protection is set to begin rolling out a new identity card scheme which it hopes will cut down on welfare fraud by making it more difficult for people to use false identification when claiming payments.

Speaking yesterday to the Joint Committee on Jobs, Social Protection and Education, the Department of Social Protection’s deputy secretary Anne Vaughan said combatting fraud was one of the department’s central concerns.

Vaughan said that social welfare fraud “undermines public confidence in the entire system as well as being unfair to other recipients of social welfare payments, taxpayers and business run on a legitimate basis”.

The new Public Services Card, which contains biometric information on the cardholder, is being piloted in Tullamore, Sligo and King’s Inn in Dublin city. No cards have been issued yet, but the first are expected to be distributed from next week.

The cards will initially be given to people of working age and an estimated 4,000 cards will be issued by the end of the year.

The front of the card will have a photograph of the cardholder as well as their name, signature and the card expiry date. The person’s PPS number and a card number will be on the back. The card will electronically hold further details such as date of birth, sex, nationalist, mother’s former surname (if any) and any former surnames of the cardholder.

A chip and pin system for the cards is also being planned.

The department says that the card will act as a ‘key’ for access to public services and will reduce resources currently required to verify a person’s identity. It also says that the card will replace current cards in use such as the Free Travel Card and Social Services Card.

Poll: Is the social welfare fraud probe a good idea?

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