Department of Social Protection warned that scam phone calls were making it difficult for them to conduct official business over the phone with the public

The Department of Social Protection were mystified by the tsunami of mobile phone scam calls to Irish people seeking their personal details.

They said the calls had already caused the department “reputational damage” and had seriously affected their ability to deal with customers over the phone who had become “apprehensive” believing legitimate calls might be fraudulent.

Monitoring of PPS numbers that had been divulged to the fraudsters had not “thrown up any suspicious activity” to suggest it related to bogus social welfare claims however.

The calls, which appear to have begun in earnest in April, have seen hundreds of thousands of people contacted by people purporting to be from the Department, the Courts Service, or the Attorney General’s office.

An internal note said that while the “modus operandi” was mostly constant with soe variations, but that “the outcome [the scammers] are seeking is unknown”.

The department also said a major issue was that that public announcements or ad campaigns about the scam calls were not reaching all pockets of the population.