Customers who have received or who are about to receive insurance payouts following the extreme weather events should be extra vigilant for scammers, says Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) head of financial crime Ashley Kai Fong.
“Scammers often prey on people in vulnerable situations, and we want to ensure that New Zealanders are prepared and protected,” he said.
In an article from the BNZ, Kai Fong listed two common examples that target people who have been paid out with their claims: invoice scams and bogus trade services. In the former, scammers compromise email accounts of legitimate businesses and modify customer bills, replacing the bank account number with that of the scammer’s.
He urged people to always check the authenticity of any invoice or bill they receive, and to contact the sender directly if in doubt.
“Additionally, confirm with a supplier that the bank account number on an invoice is correct before making a payment,” Kai Fong said.
As for bogus trade services, scammers pose as tradies offering to repair homes, properties, or utility services at cheap rates, or promise to do them immediately. They then often ask for upfront payment, whereupon they will either do a poor job, damage your property, or leave before completing the work.
“Always request written quotes and references from tradespeople you hire, and avoid paying cash or disclosing personal information,” he said.
Besides scams that target via invoices or bogus services, there are also those that prey upon vulnerable people looking to keep their insurance money safe while they wait for their homes to be rebuilt or their property to be replaced. Kai Fong urged those looking to invest their compensation to be wary of investment scams.
“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 decision,” he said.
There are also those who are exploitative of the good nature of some New Zealanders who will use deceptive fundraising efforts. For these, Kai Fong said that those looking to donate should always check out any charity before doing so, which can be done by visiting their official website or calling their official number to verify their legitimacy.
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