Public must exercise caution in relation to online criminal scams as a number of Wicklow people fall victim – John Brady TD

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Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has issued a warning to householders about yet another online scam doing the rounds. This time the fraud is targeting the concerns of householders regarding the Energy credit support payments. Individuals are receiving texts directing them to what are false, but very realistic websites, where they are being asked to input their details in order to register for the energy payments, following which criminals are accessing their accounts and withdrawing amounts of cash.

Brady said: “I have been contacted in the last while by a number of people from different parts of Wicklow who have fallen victim of an elaborate online hoax.

This criminal fraud scheme, which is one amongst many currently doing the rounds, is based around the fact that householders are aware that the energy support payments introduced in October’s budget are scheduled to begin from December.

“As a result of which when they receive a text from the fraudsters asking them to proceed to a false website, designed to mimic a formal government website, many people mistakenly believe this to be a legitimate request, which they are obliged to carry out in order to qualify for the payment.

“It is a sad reality that with the biting effect of the cost of living which is impacting on people in Wicklow and across the state at this time, that people are scared of missing out on what is a badly needed payment, at a time when they are under consider financial pressure. Consequently, we see people putting aside their natural suspicion and following the online instructions from the criminals.

“I am appealing to people to be careful. To be wary of unsolicited texts or emails that are asking for any person details. Government sources will not contact people looking for their details to register them for the energy credits.

“The fact is that this is a time of year when people are doing a lot of shopping online, and fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of this. Sending people notifications and requests that appear reasonable, and timely.

“The Gardaí and financial institutions have issued several warnings concerning online fraud. And I am adding my voice to that.

“If you believe that you are a victim of an online fraud of any description, contact your bank, and the Gardaí immediately.

“We all need to exercise caution at this time of year in particular, as sophisticated criminal gangs are constantly looking for new ways to gain access to the personal details and accounts of innocent members of the public.” 

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