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Criminals steal PPS numbers to snatch pandemic welfare claims

DUBLIN: Stolen PPS numbers used by criminals to steal pandemic welfare claims. Fraudsters use these numbers to steal social welfare benefits, including PUPs. The theft of nearly €200k has so far been confirmed by the Department of Social Protection (DSP).

Money is stolen by stealing people’s PPS numbers. There have been cases of people fell victim to a scam email claiming to be from the Irish court service. Details, including their PPS numbers, were sought from the court’s email. About 50 people were trapped in this scam.

Many victims even realized that the money was lost only when they saw the latest tax certificates from the Revenue. There is a case in which thousands of euros have been claimed on the PPS number of a woman without her knowledge.

The Department of Social Protection said in a statement that it “is investigating a number of fraudulent claims for Pandemic Unemployment Payments arising from cases where false identities have been used. The department takes identity fraud very seriously and any such cases are handled by its Special Investigation Unit, which includes over 20 Gardaí who are on secondment to the Department.”

“A person with a concern regarding a social welfare payment having been claimed under their name and PPS Number should contact the Department immediately online,” it added.

Gardai also confirmed that several members are working in the department.

A spokesman said: “There are 21 members of An Garda Síochána seconded to the Department of Enterprise And Social Presentation (DEASP) and all are conducting investigations into various types of Social Welfare fraud throughout the country. A number of these investigations are into the use of people’s PPS numbers.  These are ongoing investigations.”

Revenue said that a person might not be aware that he or she has been targeted by fraudsters or that PUP has been claimed under his or her PPS number.

Revenue said that anyone who think they could be targeted should have access to their 2020 Preliminary End of Year Statement and 2021 Tax Credit Certificate. Both are available through the Revenue’s online service. Revenue also said that if a PUP account is shown in it and payments are not received, the DSP should be contacted immediately.

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