Tuesday 15 October 2019

Helpline worker accused of fraud

Gardai confirmed officers are investigating an allegation of fraud in a call centre in Cork
Gardai confirmed officers are investigating an allegation of fraud in a call centre in Cork

A call-centre worker on the local property tax helpline has been suspended over alleged attempts to fraudulently use the credit card details of householders.

Gardai confirmed officers are investigating an allegation of fraud in a call centre in Cork. No arrests have been made.

The Revenue Commissioners, which is collecting the tax, said it was extremely concerned about an incidence of attempted fraud by an employee of Abtran, which operates the helpline. The worker was suspended after attempts were made to use the credit card details of some callers to the helpline without their knowledge.

A Revenue spokeswoman said the allegation is being treated very seriously. "Revenue understands that details in relation to 11 credit cards were improperly obtained by an unauthorised employee but most importantly no cardholder has suffered any loss," she said.

Revenue said the credit card companies involved have been alerted by gardai, who in turn are alerting cardholders who may be affected. "Revenue is also contacting the customers where we have contact details to reassure them and to answer any questions they may have," it said. "Since this incident also constitutes a data breach, Revenue has reported the matter to the Data Protection Commissioner and his Office is advising us. Most importantly, the commissioners underline that neither this employee nor anyone else in Abtran has access to any of Revenue's IT systems."

Almost 640,000 homeowners have signed up for the controversial local property tax to date, with nearly 300,000 calls made to its helpline. Revenue said because all calls to the helpline are recorded, sophisticated call management and recording systems have been interrogated to seek to identify any other similar risks. "Abtran has assured Revenue in that regard and the commissioners are satisfied that the company is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness," it continued.

Abtran confirmed it had suspended an employee who was working on the team supporting the local property tax information service over the alleged unauthorised use of credit card numbers obtained by the individual. It claimed that late on Thursday night, May 9, it became apparent an individual answering inbound calls had unnecessarily asked customers for credit card information.

"Following an investigation, where the company listened back to all calls conducted by the individual, it is apparent that the individual obtained the credit card details of 11 customers," it alleged. "The individual was suspended immediately from service pending further disciplinary action towards dismissal. Abtran also reported the matter immediately to the Gardai who met and interviewed the person in question on Friday morning,. "It is understood that the individual did attempt to effect transactions but failed to do so. That is also the subject of the Garda investigation."

Revenue and Abtram also moved to assure householders that this was an isolated incident and that all payments made online are secure. The company also provides a telephone based online filing credit card service, which it assured is in a secure ring fenced environment

Anybody who has paid and filed online via the helpline and who still has concerns can check their payment details on www.revenue.ie or call a dedicated Revenue number 1890-22-63-36.

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