Scammer targets Bay woman's identity

By MORGAN TAIT

2 comments


The first clue a Hawke's Bay woman had that someone was trying to steal her identity was when her bank phoned, asking why she was so desperate to change her phone banking passwords.

The call from Westpac New Zealand was puzzling for the woman, who wished to remain anonymous.

"Westpac rung me and they told me that someone had been ringing up telephone banking trying to change my contact telephone number and password," she said. "They said I had rung about seven times this week getting more persistent and aggressive each time - but I had never rung. I don't even use phone banking."

The woman then met with the branch manager, and a representative from their fraud department.

"We put a lock on all my accounts."

But the last thing the woman expected to find when she got home was a letter from the Inland Revenue Department.

"It said they had received my request for my IRD number to be sent to my new address.

"A person had rung them, pretending to be me. She said I had changed address and phone number and had overridden all my information."

A comparison of recorded phone calls revealed two different voices, so on the advice of IRD, the woman took the matter to Napier police.

A friend of the woman said it was then discovered a telephone account had been opened in her name.

The police are now investigating if anything else has been set up in her name.

"From what we can see they haven't managed to set up any loans or HPs, which is usually the next step."

The woman said she felt threatened by the incident.

"I feel quite vulnerable because I'm not sure if someone has been watching the house or stealing my mail. What else do they know about me?

"There is a fine line between what they have [and other personal information]. I just don't feel that safe anymore.

"I'm boring and not exactly wealthy so for someone to target me is quite strange.

"You hear about it happening overseas, and I have always assumed it's kind of stupid people it happens to."

Crime Prevention Officer Paul Miller said he had not heard of a similar incident in the region, but it was a reminder for people to be wary and report anything suspicious to police.

"Hawke's Bay is no different to anywhere else, but this is the first one I have heard about," he said.

There had been cases of stolen or lost passports or credit cards being used fraudulently, and telephone and internet scams were also common.

"If people believe they have been victims of identity fraud, we would like to know about it. It could be the sort of thing that is under reported because if people haven't had a loss, they could just get on with it. It's the same with scams. We want to know so we can be aware and develop appropriate ways to deal with it."

Mr Miller said people should think twice about sharing information on social media websites, destroy mail once it is read, keep tabs on what mail should be coming and be wary of making credit card bookings over the phone and internet.

"It is a pretty small world these days in terms of information sharing. Anything can be accessed anywhere else in the world."

IS YOUR IDENTITY SAFE?

Think twice about giving your credit card number over the phone or internet.

Know what mail you are expecting. Report it if it is missing, and destroy it when it is read.

Do not put sensitive information on social media websites.

Cancel lost/stolen money cards, IDs and passports immediately.

Report scam phone calls and emails.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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