Coronavirus: Civil Defence warns New Zealanders about fraudulent texts being sent

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New Zealanders are being warned of scams and fraudulent COVID-19 texts after several Taranaki residents received a fake message from people claiming to be Civil Defence personnel.

The text was sent on Sunday to around 50 people and a second text offering loans for welfare and food packages was also received.

Taranaki Civil Defence alternate controller Sue Kelly said in a statement that no one from NZ Civil Defence will contact the public via a text message.

"It's disappointing to see scammers taking advantage of people who are already dealing with a disruptive and stressful time," she said.

She added that fraudulent activity can increase when there's heightened public awareness about an issue and the COVID-19 response "has fallen victim" to this.

"Fraudulent behaviour is often successful when people are distracted or stressed, so it's more important than ever to stop and think about whether something you’ve received is unusual."

Kelly encourages anyone who receives anything unusual, especially if the message asks for bank account details or personal information, to report it immediately to CERT NZ.

"This won't be the last time we hear of scams, so we need to stay vigilant and unite against both scammers and COVID-19."

Civil Defence tips for dealing with messages that seem out of the ordinary

  • Don't click links in texts or emails that you're unsure of
  • Cold calls with investment offers are illegal in New Zealand. Hang up and report the number and business name to the Financial Markets Authority
  • Health officials will not ask for passwords or expect payment for tests. If you receive a request like this in any form, delete it or hang up
  • If you're suspicious of any caller, hang up and call the official number of the organisation they claim they represent to check if the call was genuine.