Scams and frauds exploiting the spread of Covid-19 have been noted overseas and are increasing in New Zealand, with some Taranaki people being the target of a text message scam over the weekend.
A text claiming to be from a NZ Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) group was sent to about 50 people on Sunday, April 5, with a second text offering loans for welfare and food packages also being received. Police have been made aware of this.
Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management alternate controller Sue Kelly says at no point will a CDEM group contact the public via a text message like this.
Unfortunately, fraudulent activity can increase when there is heightened public awareness about an issue, and the Covid-19 response has fallen victim to this, says Sue.
"It's disappointing to see scammers taking advantage of people who are already dealing with a disruptive and stressful time. Fraudulent behaviour is often successful when people are distracted or stressed, so it's more important than ever to stop and think about whether something you've received is unusual."
As with any potential scam, people are advised to report it if they come across it.
"We encourage anyone who receives anything unusual, especially if asking for bank account details or personal information, to report the activity straight away to CERT NZ."
People are asked to talk to their whānau about the risk of scams, to keep the community safe, says Sue.
"This won't be the last time we hear of scams, so we need to stay vigilant and unite against both scammers and Covid-19. Please share this with your friends, family and neighbours, especially those more vulnerable to scams such as the elderly, to help educate and inform everyone on this type of malicious behaviour."
Scams and misinformation may arrive in the form of an email, text, phone call or through social media, and it's important we all be aware of this and report anything out of the ordinary, she says.
Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management has shared some advice regarding scams.
Don't click links in texts that you're unsure of.
Cold calls with investment offers are illegal in New Zealand. Hang up and report the number and business name to the Financial Markets Authority online on fma.govt.nz
Health officials will not ask for passwords or expect payment for tests. If you receive a request like this in any form, delete it or hang up.
If you're suspicious of any caller, hang up and call the official number of the organisation they say they represent to check if the call was genuine.
Stay up to date with the NZ government's latest news on Covid-19 at covid19.govt.nz
Report any scams with CERT NZ: https://www.cert.govt.nz/individuals/report-an-issue/
For more information on what to watch out for, visit one of the following websites: