‘Ongoing fraud incident’ leads to major increase in calls to Permanent TSB helpline

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Customers of Permanent TSB have been targeted in a series of attempted frauds, prompting the bank to apologise for delays responding to people on its phone helplines.

t comes as the bank admits it has refunded a number of business customers after it overcharged them for services.

One customer received a refund of €230 after the bank made mistakes by imposing cash-handling fees on the account when no cash was lodged or withdrawn.

A letter sent to the customer by Permanent TSB says: “We have taken steps to prevent this issue from happening again and would like to take this opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience it has caused you.”

Asked about the overcharging, the bank said it identified the issue as part of its regular product monitoring and assurance review process, and immediate steps were taken to prevent a recurrence.

“No personal accounts were affected as the issue only related to a cohort of business accounts. Impacted business customers will receive an average refund of €63 each.”

The bank was unable to say how many business customers were impacted but insisted that not all its small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers were affected.

It said the Central Bank has been informed about the latest overcharging incident.

Meanwhile, the bank said an “ongoing fraud incident” has led to a huge rise in calls to its fraud helpline. Customers have been contacting the bank over potential fraudulent activity on their accounts.

They were responding to multiple transactions for €9.99 on their account for the Microsoft Store that they were not aware of.

Permanent TSB’s customer care team said on Twitter that the bank was dealing with “an ongoing fraud incident” connected to Microsoft.

The bank said: “No, it’s not a cyber attack and customers have not lost any money, as our fraud-prevention systems kick in straight away when we detect a suspicious transaction.”

Permanent TSB said its systems contact customers when there is any suspected fraud activity on their accounts. This led to an increase in calls to its fraud line.

“We continue to take steps to guard customers against such activity and to raise awareness among customers of these efforts. We apologise to customers for any delays experienced.”

The bank insisted it was not subject to a cyber attack, but there was a longer than usual wait time on its fraud hotline over the weekend. It insisted the issue has been resolved.

Permanent TSB said the fraud attempts were not specific to it, but were common across the banking industry at the moment.

In the first quarter of this year, the Central Statistics Office reported a 14pc increase in the number of fraud-related offences reported.

Recently, Bank of Ireland warned consumers of what it said was an “unprecedented spike” in fraud.

Bank of Ireland said up to 20 new fraudulent websites are appearing every day. It said that this week has seen the highest ever number of new phishing sites recorded.

AIB recently warned its customers to be alert as fraudsters target the bank with a text message scam. Criminals send text messages from the same number used by the bank to provide customers with a code to verify purchases.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau has repeatedly warned the public about smishing scams where people receive text messages purporting to be from their bank.