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Take a moment, question unexpected calls

Consumer Protection is encouraging New Zealanders to take a moment and stop and think ‘is this for real?’ when they’re contacted unexpectedly and being asked for personal information. Next week, 17-23 November is the annual Fraud Awareness Week.

With nearly $33 million in scam-related losses reported to Netsafe alone in the past year, Mark Hollingsworth, Manager Consumer Protection (MBIE) says the volume of scams targeting people in New Zealand is increasing and it’s important that people know what to look out for.

Scams

“This week is Fraud Awareness Week and we’re encouraging people to stop and think ‘is this for real?’. It can be an easy way to help you to make the right decision in those crucial early moments when you’re contacted unexpectedly.”

“We want people to automatically question unexpected calls and emails,” says Hollingsworth. “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.”

Among the most common scams reported remain fake technical support over the phone and email phishing scams. Scams also exist via social media, text message, post, and any other communications channel.

“So if you’re contacted out of the blue and asked for personal or financial information, access to your PC, or told that unless you pay a fine immediately something bad will happen to you – stop and think ‘is this for real?’.

According to the online safety organisation, Netsafe 13,000 instances of frauds and online scams were reported in 2018, up from 8100 reports in 2017. The smallest loss reported was $1 and the largest loss was $5 million.

As part of Fraud Awareness Week, Consumer Protection is encouraging people to remember:

-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.

For more information on how you can prevent yourself, family and friends from being scammed, please visit Scamwatch page.