Phone scams are a common problem, and with scammers becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approaches, it can be difficult to recognise a scam call.
How to recognise a scam call
A scam call may have one or more of these common characteristics:
- Unexpected contact from someone claiming to be from a trusted organisation, such as a bank, utility provider or even a charity.
- The call could come from a blocked or foreign number, but scammers can also disguise the number to look local using a method called number spoofing.
- Requests for money or personal information such as credit card details or passwords over the phone.
- Pressure to make a decision quickly or face negative consequences.
- Telling you that there is a problem with your computer and that they can help you fix it.
- Telling you something that you think is too good to be true such as winning a prize in a competition that you don’t remember entering.
Be wary of 'out of the blue' contact.
A telecommunications company would never call a customer out of the blue and request remote access to their device/s. If this happens to you, it is a scam, and the best action you can take is to hang up.
It is only when a customer has requested assistance to troubleshoot a technical issue, that a provider will suggest remote access. So the request will always be initiated by the customer and additional security measures will be in place.
Similarly, a telco would never ask for credit card details over the phone to fix or diagnose a problem.
What to do if you think you have received a scam call
If you receive an unexpected phone call that seems suspicious, it is better to hang up the phone than to engage with the suspected scammer.
You can check whether the call as legitimate by calling the company directly on their number listed in the phone book or on their website. Otherwise, if it was a legitimate call, they will call you back, leave a message or contact you in another way.
Be sure to ignore their instructions and avoid sharing any personal information with the caller including your name, your spouse or relative names, driver licence details, passport details, contact details, credit card details, bank details.
If you think you may have shared credit card or bank details with a scammer, call your bank immediately. If you may have shared a password, change it along with any other accounts that use the same login information. It can also be worthwhile to scan your computer for viruses if a scammer may have accessed your computer.
If you’re unsure the call is legitimate, do not transfer money over the phone or through cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero etc.) or gift vouchers or cards (iTunes etc.).
Please report any instances of suspected scam calls to your telecommunications provider as soon as possible so they can investigate the matter and block the number if necessary. Contact details for reporting scams for each telecommunications companies are below.
It is helpful if you can provide your telecommunications provider with:
- Your name
- Your account number
- Your contact number
- The number you received the call on
- The number you received the call from (if this is available)
- The time and dates that the calls were received
- A description of what happened on the call
All scams should also be reported to Netsafe, regardless as to whether it was an internet, phone or other type of scam, and regardless of whether or not you were tricked by the scam. Report a scam to Netsafe here.
Scam reporting for telcos
What to do if you think you have been scammed
If you think you have been the victim of a scam, follow these steps:
- Call your bank immediately to report the scam.
- If you’ve been scammed out of money, report the scam to the Police – your service provider will work with them if contacted.
- Switch off the device (phone or computer) if you’ve followed any instructions given by the scammer and take it to an authorised technician.
- Change any passwords on a different device to the one that has been accessed by scammers.
More information can be found at scamwatch.govt.nz including a list of agencies who can help if you think you've been a victim of a scam.
Types of scam calls
Below are examples of some of the most common types of scam calls being received by consumers in New Zealand: