A word of advice about common scams and how to avoid them.
13 September 2010
Scammers are out there working tirelessly to get their grubby hands on your hard earned money and personal details.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs runs the Scamwatch website and we thought it timely to update you with some scams that are doing the rounds at the moment and which have been reported to Scamwatch. Forewarned is forearmed!
Mystery shopper scam
Beware of adverts in local newspapers, or coming via email, asking if you wish to be a mystery shopper. Those who have replied to these ads are asked to cash American Express travellers cheques which are mailed out to them. They are then asked to wire the funds - minus their commission – overseas. If you’ve replied to this advert and have received travellers cheques, do NOT attempt to cash them, as you may be committing an offence. The cheques are forgeries.
It is also likely that you will get further emails from the scammers pressuring you to 'cash' the cheques. Don't respond to or acknowledge these emails.
McDonalds survey scams
This is a phishing scam with the scammers looking for your credit card and/or personal details by filling in a customer satisfaction survey claiming to be from McDonalds. The offer comes in three forms, all via email. One offers a $50 voucher, the other the chance to win Honda CR-V's, and the most recent one doing the rounds offers a $90 ‘credit’ to your credit card.
If you complete the survey you’re taken to a page to put your credit card details in. Don’t do it! Delete these emails straight away. McDonald’s only uses reputable research companies and would never request bank or credit card details on any occasion.
Tax refund scams
These come in two forms, both via email. One claims to be from one of the tax-rebate companies and offers to put tax refunds 'straight onto your credit card'. This is likely a phishing scam. The emails claim to come from a real company, but the scammers have used their branding. Be careful, contact the company concerned directly – not via email - if you have any suspicions.
The second type of tax scam claims to come directly from IRD, who are warning people not to respond to a hoax email claiming to offer a tax refund. The link in the email directs people to a fake webpage with an Inland Revenue logo, as well as logos of some financial institutions. It tries to get the recipient to log into a screen by clicking on a logo. IRD advises people to ignore and delete the email and not click on any link in the email.
Yellow Pages scam
A few weeks ago scammers sent a fax to small businesses which was designed to look like it was from the Yellow Pages. It wasn’t. At the time we advised people not to reply to the fax and to bin it.
Those that did respond to this scam have subsequently received an invoice for around $2,000. We advise people not to pay this. It is likely that businesses will subsequently receive letters from the scammers threatening legal action. Scamwatch has never known a case where an overseas based scammer has taken a legitimate business to court in New Zealand. If you are concerned, contact a lawyer.
Sadly, scammers will use any opportunity to prey on people, and charity is no exception. Scamwatch hasn’t received any reports of charity scams directly related to the earthquake in Christchurch, but consumers should remain on their guard, regardless of the cause, and follow these tips:
- Be cautious about 'soundalikes'. Those being organisations which play on legitimate charity names, such as "Oxfan".
- If you are contacted by a charity you have never heard of before, do some research before saying 'yes'. Check out the Charities Commission’s register.
- If you are approached face-to-face by someone representing a charity, look for official identification. Even if they have ID, check for signs that the ID may be faked.
- Do not be pressured or intimidated or made to feel guilty. Genuine charities would regard such tactics as bad for their reputations.
- Ask for full details of the charity, such as name, address, phone number and charity registration details. If the collector is reluctant to give out this information, find another way to contribute.
If you come across a scam, report it to us! Scamwatch exists as an education tool for consumers to learn about the types of scams that are around, so people can know the sort of tactics scammers use and be able to spot the signs of a scam.
By reporting a scam to us, you add to our collection of scam data and the information we hold about scams. The information you give may help educate others to avoid scams in the future. Report a scam here.