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“When you contact the company to claim your prize, you’re asked to pay a fee to cover government taxes or some other cost. The fee can be several thousands of dollars. But you won’t receive any winnings and your money will be lost,” Chetwin said.
The other nuisance scammers Consumer NZ members have complained about include cold-callers claiming to be “computer technicians” from companies such as Spark or Microsoft.
They claim consumers services will be disconnected unless they clean up their computers by downloading software or providing remote access to their PCs.
Chetwin said the crooks were really “snooping around for bank account details and other personal information” they could use to steal money.
“Consumers need to be certain they’re dealing with legitimate companies before finalising a transaction or responding to an urgent request.”.
CONSUMER NZ’S TOP FIVE TIPS:
- Never reply to any email asking you to confirm your bank or credit card details. Legitimate organisations will never ask you to do this. The same applies if you’re asked for this information over the phone.
- If you’re buying goods online, check the billing process is secure (characterised by https:// and a padlock symbol in the URL). Ensure the business has a physical address and telephone number.
- Research the firms you’re dealing with. Use the companies register at companies.govt.nz to see if the company exists and who’s behind it.
- Don’t be swayed by cold-callers promising bargain deals or instant riches if you sign up on the spot. Legitimate companies will give you time to do your research.
- If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to police. If you’ve handed over your bank details, contact your bank and immediately suspend your account. Fraudulent credit card transactions can sometimes be reversed.