Increasingly desperate phone scammers have taken to threatening violence and using sexually explicit language.
A Tauranga woman, who wanted to be known only as Judi, contacted the Bay of Plenty Times after a call from a man claiming to be a computer technician took a sinister turn.
When she questioned him, he made vulgar comments about her body and told her he wanted to have sex with her.
She threatened to go to police and he told her: "I love you."
"He was in the distance talking. When he started saying disgusting things it was like he had come up close, like he was outside," she said.
"Had that been someone else, like a little old lady who lived by herself, she would have been a hell of a mess," added Judi, who lives with her husband.
After hanging up, the 62-year-old contacted Telecom staff who confirmed the call was from overseas.
She was told these types of calls were not unusual.
Last month, Judi received about five calls of a similar nature, but without the abusive language.
"I hung up and they kept ringing and ringing and ringing," she said.
She has since had international calls barred from her phone.
However, Judi said Telecom could not guarantee this would stop the calls getting through.
"They can still get around it," she said.
Ministry of Consumer Affairs spokesman Alastair Stewart said scammers were becoming more threatening and abusive.
"It's something we have been aware of for a while.
"Anecdotally it does appear to be on the increase as people become more aware of these scams."
A couple of months ago a Hawke's Bay woman contacted the ministry after receiving a sexually explicit call from a scammer, he said.
And last month a Tauranga woman reported being sworn at by a phone scammer. Because many of the calls were made over the internet, it was difficult to trace them, Mr Stewart said.
"The reality is hanging up is the best defence."
Senior Sergeant Ross Bielby, officer in charge of the Tauranga Police Station, reiterated this advice.
"Immediately hang up," he said.
If the calls continued, people should contact their telephone provider.
If the call was from overseas there was little that could be done, however if the call was made within New Zealand there was provision to follow it up, Mr Bielby said.
Telecom was was unable to provide comment before this article went to print.
How to protect yourself from scams:
If someone calls you out of the blue to say your computer has a virus, hang up.
If you download any software as a result of the scam, unplug it from the internet immediately. Run spyware and antivirus programmes. If in doubt take it to your computer technician to be cleaned.
If you sign up to a service contract you think is a scam contact your bank or credit-card provider.
Don't be intimidated and don't try to get details from them.
Make sure you always know who you are giving your credit-card details to.
- Ministry of Consumer Affairs.By Julia Proverbs of the Bay of Plenty Times