312. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice the steps that are being taken to address the surge in scam calls; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39036/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I can assure the Deputy that scam calls, which include the criminal activity known as phishing, are taken very seriously by my Department and are the subject of ongoing engagement between An Garda Síochána and the banking and technology industries.
I am advised that work is ongoing in An Garda Síochána to tackle this issue, including, but not limited to, the issuing of advisory notices to members of the public warning against this criminal tactic and advising how to proceed should they be targeted.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau (GNCCB) proactively engage with telecommunications providers to suspend Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) numbers which are suspected to be being used to commit fraud.
I am further informed that this engagement does not involve the invoking of any legal power, and it is the experience of GNECB that telecommunication companies based in Ireland will provide assistance in the suspension of such numbers, upon notification that a VOIP number or other number is being used to commit fraud offences.
I understand that the use of 'spoofed numbers' involves a process wherein a suspected caller/fraudster uses technology to disguise their number from the recipient of the call, by changing their Caller ID. This is manifested, for example, in cases such as where a suspected fraudster calling from abroad will set the Caller ID to look like an Irish number (landline or mobile) to lull the recipient into a false sense of security.
I am advised that telecommunications companies have informed the GNECB that they have no control over the use of ‘spoofed numbers’ and it is extremely difficult to identify the source of these calls.
I am assured, however, that both the GNECB and the GNCCB continue to engage with telecommunications service providers regarding phishing scams in this jurisdiction and the identification of criminals involved.