New Zealanders who have received, or who are about to receive, insurance payments following Cyclone Gabrielle and floods in the Upper North Island need to be extra vigilant of scammers, says Ashley Kai Fong, BNZ Head of Financial Crime.
“Scammers often prey on people in vulnerable situations, and we want to ensure that New Zealanders are prepared and protected”.
Invoice scams are a good example. This is where scammers compromise email accounts of legitimate businesses and modify customer bills, replacing the actual bank account number with their own.
“Always thoroughly check the authenticity of any invoice or bill you receive and contact the sender directly if you have any doubts. Additionally, confirm with a supplier that the bank account number on an invoice is correct before making a payment,” advises Kai Fong.
Bogus trade services are another scamming method. Scammers pose as tradies offering to repair homes, properties, or utility services at cheap rates or promise to do the repairs immediately. They’ll often ask for an upfront payment, and will then either do a poor job, damage your property, or take-off before completing the work.
“Always request written quotes and references from tradespeople you hire, and avoid paying cash or disclosing personal information,” Kai Fong says.
Kai Fong says investment scams are another worry.
“Getting back on your feet after a natural disaster takes time, and some people may look for places to keep their insurance money while they wait for homes to be rebuilt or property to be replaced.
“We urge all New Zealanders to exercise caution and do their research before investing any money. Be sceptical of unsolicited investment offers, verify the credentials of any investment adviser, and ensure they’re licensed by the Financial Markets Authority. It is also recommended to call the intended recipient of your investment on their publicly listed number to confirm their account details. Always report suspicious activity and seek independent advice before making any decisions,” he says.
“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
The public should also be wary of scammers exploiting New Zealanders’ generosity through deceptive fundraising efforts.
“Always check out any charity before donating by visiting their official website or calling their official number to make sure they are legit. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited emails, in case they are dodgy, ” warns Kai Fong.
Golden Rules of Scams
- Never open links/attachments in emails or text messages from unknown senders.
- Always check the sender’s email address for accuracy, especially if the email seems suspicious.
- If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- Urgency is a red flag – scammers will try to rush you.
- Contact your bank as soon as possible if you think you’ve been scammed; prompt reporting increases the chance of recovering money.
- Take the time to just pause and think. Trust your gut – if it feels wrong, it probably is.
For more information on protecting yourself from scams, visit www.getscamsavvy.co.nz