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The recent wave of scam phone calls falsely claiming to be from government agencies have diversified, with a range of nationalities now apparently being targeted.
“These phone scammers call out of the blue saying they are from a trusted government agency such as Immigration New Zealand or Inland Revenue. They then demand payment to avoid deportation or arrest, either in cash or in iTunes vouchers. These calls are scams,” says MBIE’s Consumer Protection Manager Mark Hollingsworth.
“Calls like these are from scammers and the safest thing to do is hang up and report it through the Scamwatch section of Consumer Protection’s website.
“Initially scammers appeared to target Indian nationals living in New Zealand, but recent reports show Fijians, Cook Islanders and Filipinos have also been targeted, prompting Consumer Protection to reissue warnings.
“We are aware of over 300 reports from consumers who have been contacted by callers in context of this scam in the past two months, but this scam has been present in various iterations for quite some time.
“While the name of the scam changes, the tell-tale signs don’t. Members of the public should be aware that government agencies such as Immigration New Zealand or Inland Revenue will never call, email, or text demanding payment or threatening deportation. Banks will never call and ask for online banking passwords. These agencies will also never use money transfer services such as Western Union or demand payment via iTunes vouchers.”
“Consumer Protection is working to raise awareness of the scam in the community and educate consumers on how to avoid it.
“Scammers are constantly looking for ways to seek your personal information in order to profit. To protect yourself, get to know about the common types of scams and typical red flags you should be looking out for on Consumer Protection’s Scamwatch page.
“Our advice is be wary of unexpected calls or texts seeking your personal information and do not pay money to anyone you have not met. If in doubt, hang up and report it to Scamwatch straight away to help prevent others from becoming the next victim of a scam,” Mr Hollingsworth says.