19 July 2024

COVID-19 related scams on rise, warns Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection (MBIE) is encouraging people to be aware of new and sophisticated Covid-19 related scams designed to encourage people to hand over money or personal information.

Scam and fraud reports to Netsafe rose by 73% in the April – June 2020 period which covered the majority of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Scam & Frauds rose by 73% from Apr to June 2020

As part of Fraud Awareness week, 15-21 November 2020, Mark Hollingsworth, Manager Consumer Protection says the volume and complexity of scams targeting people in New Zealand is increasing and it’s important that people know what to look out for.

“COVID-19 related scams are on the rise as scammers target vulnerable people with promises around investing, job opportunities and sales of medical equipment or treatments. We’re encouraging people to make the right decision in those crucial early moments when they’re contacted unexpectedly,” says Hollingsworth.

His advice is if you get unexpected phone calls, and emails asking for personal or financial information, “You should always double check if a person, offer or company is legitimate. It’s okay to hang up, and you can always search a business, bank or government department via Google or a printed directory and contact their Customer Help just to be sure.”

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Consumer Protection is raising awareness of the common signs of scams and tips to stay safe, including:

  • A genuine business, bank or government department will never contact you to ask for your PIN, password or to move money to another account
  • Never click on a link in an unexpected email or text – you could be giving access to your personal and financial details
  • Always question uninvited approaches in case it is a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number
  • Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic – just because someone knows your basic details (name and address, or mother’s maiden name) it doesn’t mean they are genuine
  • Don’t be rushed into making a decision or financial transaction on the spot – a genuine bank or trusted organisation would never do this
  • Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it generally is.

More information can be found at https://www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/

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