The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) is warning consumers to beware of scam callers preying on the vulnerable and elderly, in the wake of a series of hoax calls pretending to be from New Zealand telecommunications providers.
Police have had numerous reports of hoax calls over recent weeks; and over the weekend scammers claiming to work for telecommunications company Spark have successfully scammed elderly New Zealanders out of thousands of dollars. In the Tasman area alone, three elderly residents have been conned out of a total of $120,000.
The scammers contact the victim, saying they need to speak to them about issues with their telecommunications account or computer, and then ask for personal and banking information.
An Auckland woman named Joan who has received several hoax calls from the scammers said they have rung her several times saying “this is Spark ringing about a problem with your computer.” They warned her internet and phone connections would be cut off by 5pm if she did not carry out what they asked her to do on her computer.
A spokesperson from the TCF said “the industry has strong policies in place to protect consumer information. Consumers should beware of anyone who asks for bank account details, internet banking access information, credit card numbers or asks them to perform unusual actions on their computer. This is not something any New Zealand telecommunications provider would do under any circumstances.”
The TCF advises “if you receive a call from someone claiming to be your telecommunications provider, hang up immediately and then phone your provider directly on their published 0800 number to check on the status of your account. Under no circumstances provide access to your bank, personal or credit card information.”
Anyone who believes they’ve been targeted by the scam should report it to the Consumer Protection Scamwatch website, at www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/get-guidance/scams-and-online-safety/scams