Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Questions (232)

Thomas P. Broughan


232. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to protect mobile telephone users from telephone scams which are designed to trick persons into telephoning back at premium rates; his further plans to provide the Commission for Communications Regulation with additional powers to combat same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7655/18]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The telecommunications market is regulated by the Commission for Communications Regulation, including in relation to operational issues such as detecting or monitoring scam calls designed to trick persons into phoning back at premium rates. I have no role or statutory function in that regard.

I am aware of Irish phone customers in the last year experiencing an escalated level of such nuisance scam calls and that they can cause considerable distress and anxiety, in addition to causing some customers to incur additional charges. In light of the situation, my officials were in contact with ComReg. The Regulator advised that it published a consumer information notice on 18 October 2017, which provides advice urging vigilance at all times on the part of consumers and listing suggestions for the proactive steps to be taken by those receiving scam calls, and in particular, advising people not to answer or to call back any number which they do not recognise or where there is a bland or no voicemail left.  The notice also provides a phone number for consumers to contact and the Regulator also offers a text call back service and other facilities to assist consumers.

In the meantime, ComReg continues to monitor the situation closely.  Unfortunately it is not possible to identify scam call numbers in advance, which can resemble normal, familiar geographical or international numbers encountered on a daily basis.