Our Government cyber security agency is seeing an increase in Covid-19 related scams as the vaccine rollout ramps up.
CERT NZ (Computer Emergency Response Team) has seen a number of them targeting New Zealanders over the past month and are anticipating they'll continue to get worse as more people become involved with the vaccination programme.
The scams include a phone call advising the vaccine is available for $49.99 that then prompted people to enter credit card details.
Another phone scam asked people to head to a website where people can 'vote' in order to be eligible for a jab.
CERT NZ Incident Response Manager Nadia Yousef said they reached out to telecommunication partners to disconnect both scam phone lines.
In the last week, the agency had also received a report of an email scam claiming to offer money for taking a survey on the Pfizer vaccine.
Yousef said they are also aware of a compromised Facebook account that has been used to solicit payments from people claiming they are eligible for Covid-19 relief payments.
"The purpose of these scams is not only to obtain the scam victim's credit card information, but also to use their personal information to conduct online fraud and other criminal activities later down the line."
Yousef said the main red flag for anything to do with the vaccine is a request for payment or financial information, as it's free for all Kiwis.
"The Ministry of Health, your health provider and Unite Against Covid are the agencies that should be contacting you ... so if you're getting communication from any other party that's also a red flag that you could be getting a scam."
She said they were "opportunistic scams" that were "absolutely" taking advantage of the pandemic and vaccine rollout.
Tech expert Paul Brislen said the scams were alarming, especially with the amount of misinformation and disinformation around vaccines.
"They do target people who really may not be able to afford it and may be fearful of the messages that are being sent out."
Brislen said people need to remember New Zealanders don't have to pay for the vaccine so you won't get bumped up the rollout list, no matter what the scammers say.
People should report vaccine-related scams to CERT NZ via its online reporting tool - www.cert.govt.nz/covidscams or calling 0800 2378 69.
When reporting a Covid email scam forward the original email including any attachments and provide any further details you're aware of.
For phone scams, collect as much information including the phone number the call came from and date and time of the call.