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Vast majority of people have received a scam call from an Irish number in the past month

About half of people received a scam call in the last week, a Red C/The Journal poll has found.

Image: Shutterstock/ronstik

As part of a monthly series, The Journal and Red C ask readers questions about their daily lives and the issues that really matter to them. 

ALMOST THREE-QUARTERS of adults surveyed in Ireland said they received a scam call from an Irish number at some point over the past month, according to a new survey.

The Department of Social Protection and gardaí have been continuously warning the public about scam calls – with many coming from Irish phone numbers.

The most common scam call in recent weeks have consisted of one of a selection of pre-recorded message purporting to be from the Department of Social Protection.

Recent polling by Red C on behalf of The Journal shows that half of the people surveyed received a scam call in the last week from 083/085/086/087/089 numbers. 

The results were largely similar across age categories, with 42% of people aged 55 and over receiving such calls in the last week compared to 54% of people aged 35-54.

However, when it comes to the past month, 73% of people polled said they received a call like this. This figure stayed consistent across age cohorts.

Just 11% of people surveyed said they have never received a scam call from an Irish number. 

Paul Delahunty, information security officer at cyber security company Stryve, told The Journal that the survey results appear consistent with anecdotal reports.

“I’m also hearing those kind of figures, so it’s good that these surveys are done. It’s good to put an actual bit of science behind it.

“It does tally up very much so with my personal experience over the past month,” Delahunty said, adding he has received “about six of these calls” in that time. 

He said it’s not unusual that people are still receiving these kinds of calls weeks after they started doing the rounds.

“You can’t definitely say ‘it’ll be over next week’ [for example], but they do tend to kind of come in waves,” he said. 

“The biggest defence we have is public education and making people aware of what to do.”

According to Statista, around 3.6 million Irish people have a smartphone. 

scam calls area Red C and The Journal poll results. Source: Red C

Where people lived – urban or rural – had little impact on being targeted by scammers, with results staying consistent across both sections in the poll. 

There was a slight difference in terms of the age groups affected. 42% of people aged 55+ surveyed said they received a call like this in the last week compared to around 53% of people aged 18-54. 

However, the figures tended to even out towards around 70% when it comes to receiving a scam call within the last month.

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Last month, gardaí said they received reports of automated calls from numbers with 085/087 prefixes claiming to be from the Department of Social Protection. 

These kinds of calls generally consist of an automated message about a person’s PPS number or bank account. Some recipients were told that their “PPS number has been suspended due to unusual activity”, while others heard that they are being investigated for money laundering. 

Gardaí also received reports of scam calls claiming to be from An Garda Síochána.

A recent European Commission report found that Irish people ranked the second highest in the EU for saying they received an unsolicited call and were charged for it after answering or calling back.

People are advised to hang up any suspicious calls straight away. 

Gardaí said:

  • Hang up the call
  • Don’t engage with the call
  • Don’t return the call
  • Don’t follow the automated instructions,
  • Don’t transfer any money or disclose any personal or financial information

The Department of Social Protection reminded the public that it will never ask for bank details over the phone or seek personal information through text. 

The Data Protection Commission also said it’s aware of ongoing issues with scam calls. The DPC said it has received queries from the public about this issue but that it redirects to guidance put out by gardaí and ComReg. 

Red C interviewed a random sample of 1000+ adults online between 1 and 7 July 2021. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results weighted to the profile of all adults. Panellists were chosen at random to complete the poll, with quotas set and weights allocated on age, gender, class, region, education level and working status to ensure a nationally representative sample. 

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