Police warning as 'huge number' of New Zealanders receive Westpac scam message

Westpac scam.
Police say the link in the text can be used to gain the recipient's financial information. Photo credit: Getty Images/Westpac NZ

New Zealanders are being urged not to click on links sent via unexpected text messages after a "huge number" of people were messaged by scammers pretending to be from Westpac.

Police said the link in the text can be used to gain the recipient's financial information.

"Westpac alert - online banking locked," the text message says. "Please follow [the] link provided to restore access."

Police said people should contact their bank immediately should they believe they've fallen victim to a scam.

"Westpac NZ has received a huge number of reports of a sophisticated text phishing scam this morning," a post on the Canterbury police Facebook page said.

"It uses their real phone number but the website link leads to a convincing-looking scam site that will steal your account log-in details.

"Please share with friends and family."

In a statement, Westpac said anyone who receives the text should send it to phishing@westpac.co.nz.

On Tuesday, Newshub reported that scammers pretending to be ANZ bank employees had attempted to target a grieving woman - insisting her bank details be changed on the same day her late husband's death notice was published in a newspaper. 

The national manager of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Consumer Protection department, Mark Hollingsworth, said scams like this are frequent and change all the time.

"Scammers often use publicly available information, events, and trusted brands to deceive people into dropping their guard on protecting their personal information, making immediate and unusual payment requests, or simply making a purchase of a product or service that seems to offer a 'good deal,'" he told Newshub.

"Most scams start with a contact that wasn’t expected, or an advertisement promising a good deal. If someone contacts you out of the blue or if you are targeted by an advertisement - whether over the phone, through the post, by email, on a website, in person, or on social media - you should always consider the possibility that it may be a scam."

Hollingsworth said people shouldn't provide personal information until they're sure an offer is genuine.

"Banks, businesses, or Government departments will never contact you directly by phone, text, email, social media, or other channels seeking your personal information.

"If you think you have provided your personal information or made a payment to a scammer, contact your bank and the police immediately."