Bogus house tax collectors target OAPs in €100 scam
HOME-owners were today being warned not to hand over cash on their doorstep to people claiming to collect the Household Charge.
Gardai have received a number of reports that fraudsters are posing as council workers in a bid to extort the €100.
Elderly residents have been urged to "buy a chain for your door" following a spate of incidents of bogus collectors.
Laois County Council has warned residents to check on the elderly after reports that fraudsters called to homes in Mountmellick and Stradbally.
And in Meath, gardai have been investigating claims that two men have been calling to houses in a bid to extort cash.
A Garda spokesperson today warned people to be vigilant and to report any suspicions to their local garda station.
"If they have any concerns at all about the people they are dealing with, they should call the local gardai," he said.
Eamon Timmins of Age Action Ireland urged homeowners to "buy a chain for your door and keep it locked" amid the reports of bogus collectors.
The news comes as Lucinda Creighton, Junior Minister for European Affairs, admitted today that the Government "got things wrong".
"I did say that some mistakes have been made. I think it's important that we are honest about it. It's important that when a Government gets things wrong, that we can hold up our hands and say so," she said.
"The obvious one is the lack of information that was circulating and that's something that's caused a lot of confusion and concern and worry for people but it has been addressed to a large extent."
However the minister refused to accept arguments for the charge to be broken up into installments, adding: "We need the money. The State and country needs the money in the coffers as quickly as possible."
Meanwhile, a Dublin County Manager warned of job cuts if people don't pay the charge.
Fingal County Manager David O'Connor admitted that local authorities may have to look at axing jobs if large scale dodging persists.
"I would be nervous that in the second half of the year, we could be looking at having to rejig our budgets, perhaps having to look at peoples' full-time employment within our organisations," he said.
His comments come as the Government braces itself for continued large-scale dodging of the levy.
Although a late surge is being reported today, just over 400,000 of the 1.6m eligible households have registered.
Some 27,732 online registrations were received in 24 hours. And Phil Hogan's Department of Environment said that 46 bags of post have been received over the past two days containing registration forms.