Phone scams are a common problem, and with scammers becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approaches, it can be hard 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 comes from a blocked or foreign number.
- 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.
Stop and think. Is this for real?
Most organisations will never ring you and ask you for your credit card details, bank account number or to access your computer without you knowing why.
If you receive an unexpected phone call which you think is suspicious, stop and think, is this for real?
If you are unsure, it is better to hang up the phone call than to engage with the suspected scammer. Chances are, it would have been a scam. If it was a legitimate call, they will call you back or have other ways to get in touch with you, such as email or post.
What to do if you think you have received a scam call
If you receive an unexpected phone call that seems suspicious, the best action to take is to hang up. Do not share any personal information with the caller.
If the caller has told you they are from a particular company, ring the company (find their number online, don’t call back the number they called you from) and alert them to the call you have just received. They will let you know if it was a legitimate call.
Please also report any instances of suspected scam calls to your telecommunications provider so they can investigate the matter and block the number if necessary. It is helpful if you can provide your telecommunications provider with the time, date and number that called you.
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
What to do if you think you have been scammed
If you think you have been the victim of a scam, follow these steps:
- Ignore the calls and caller’s instructions.
- Do not provide any personal details at all including your name, your spouse or relative names, driver licence details, passport details, contact details, credit card details, bank details, or transfer of money over the phone or through Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero etc.) or gift vouchers or cards (iTunes etc.)
- Scammers may use caller ID spoofing technology to mask the phone number the call is coming from, and display a different number. Calls that appear to be from a local number, or number that belongs to someone you know, may not be originating from New Zealand at all. If you receive a suspicious call from a local number, hang up, wait five minutes, then call the number back to check the validity of the request (this step does not provide 100 per cent guarantee as scammers may purchase NZ numbers and use them to funnel calls overseas, but provides good verification in case they are spoofing spouse/friend/relative or NZ government agency/company numbers).
- 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.
- Report any incidents of scam calls, including Wangiri calls, to your service provider. If you are the victim of a targeted scam where the callers have access to your personal information, also contact NZ Police or CERT NZ.
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.
Below are examples of some of the most common types of scam calls being received by consumers in New Zealand: