344. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice if she will determine the steps the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau are taking in conjunction with the relevant stakeholders in response to the rise in phishing over the past year and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48855/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I can assure the Deputy that the criminal activity known as 'phishing' or 'smishing', as well as all fraudulent calls are taken very seriously by my Department and is the subject of on-going engagement between An Garda Síochána, telecoms service providers and the banking and technology industries.
I am informed that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau proactively engages with telecommunications providers to suspend VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) numbers which are suspected of being used to commit fraud and it is the experience of An Garda Síochána that telecommunication companies based in Ireland will provide assistance in the suspension of such numbers upon notification that they are being used to commit fraud offences. I would therefore urge people to notify the Gardaí if they are contacted by someone they suspect to be trying to defraud them.
In addition, GNECB have also conducted enquiries on websites suspected of being involved in fraud and have suspended websites that were being used to target Irish residents.
Both the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau continue to engage with telecommunications service providers regarding the kinds of scam raised by the Deputy and the identification of the persons involved.
I understand that GNECB actively engages with the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) and the Irish Telecommunications Security Fraud Forum (ITSFF) with regard to providing advice and assistance relating to all cybercrime threats. This engagement is ongoing in relation to disrupting suspected fraudsters' ability to target unsuspecting victims through SMS (smishing) messages.
The Deputy may also be aware that October is European Cyber Security Month and the Department of Justice and An Garda Síochána will be launching a number of initiatives in the coming weeks to support this.