Scammers posing as power company employees have stolen significant amounts of money from the banks accounts of at least three elderly people in the past week, police say.

The scammers called the victims - two from Queenstown and one a Christchurch resident - and told them they were from their power company.

They claimed they wanted to speak to the victim about either an unpaid bill or a contract renewal before passing on the call to a second person who said they were from the victims' bank.

The second scammer would then coerce the victim into disclosing their bank account and password to settle the bill.

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In some cases, the caller threatened to disconnect their power if the victim refused to comply immediately, police said.

All victims thought the calls were legitimate because the caller knew personal information about them.

Police believe the scammers may be hacking victims' email address to get this information before calling.

The Bankers' Association alerted police to the scam last Thursday.

Most victims were SBS bank customers who had an Xtra email account, police said.

Investigators were working with the bank to identify the scammers and find out whether the stolen money can be returned to the victims.

However, police believe the scammers transferred the money to an overseas account.

They urged anyone who thought they may have been a victim of the scam or had received a similar call to contact their bank to find out whether money has been stolen.

If money had been withdrawn without authorisation, they should contact their local police station.

Recipients of similar calls should:
• Seek validation of who the caller actually is.
• Always ask for a full name and the company or agency details.
• Validate the phone number of the caller and ask that they call from a landline if they are using a mobile phone.
• Ignore calls from unknown mobile numbers.
• Don't share personal details until you are convinced the caller is legitimate.
• If you are threatened, simply hang up - the IRD or any other government agency, police or a crown entity will not threaten someone.
• Don't trust anyone who calls you and asks for financial information such as your account details and password - again simply hang up. Call the company the person claims to be from on its published contact 0800 number or arrange a meeting at the relevant agency branch.