They're back - the phone scammers pretending to be from IRD
Kay Stieller has spent the last five days getting more and more frustrated at her "constantly ringing telephone".
The Christchurch woman is among the many people to have been targeted by a re-emerged phone scam.
Police have urged the public to be vigilant after recent reports revealed that callers pretending to be from government departments, predominantly the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) had demanded money in the form of vouchers.
The caller often made threats to victims should they not transfer funds.
Fairfax reported last week that hundreds of people around the country received calls about "unpaid taxes".
Stieller, who used to work for IRD, said the annoying calls were originally showing up as a Wellington number but had since changed to an 09 number.
"It started on Thursday and it's honestly been every couple of hours," she said.
The phone did not stop ringing all weekend, she said.
"It's driving me crazy."
When she picked up the phone she heard it was a recorded message from a man claiming to be from IRD.
"It says I'm in trouble for tax evasion and tax avoidance and that I need to phone them back else I'll be in trouble."
Her account tried to phone the caller back but "got through to EQC".
IRD Customer services group manager Eleanor Young said since last Tuesday more than 500 people had reported calls telling them they were being investigated for historic tax fraud or evasion, and threatening legal action.
Young said Inland Revenue would never ask for credit card details or bank account numbers over the phone in order to process a monetary payment.
The calls can appear legitimate if the caller knows your name and telephone number, but Police wish to assure the public that threatening behaviour would not be made from a real government agency caller.
A simple white book query, checking social media online, or by social engineering means, such as convincing a friend of a friend to reveal some details," says NZ Police Chief Information Security Officer Paul Blowers.
"Police are not able to track these callers directly but depending on how they have configured their mobile phone, some details can be revealed. Equally, they can easily be hidden.
To track callers down would require closer interaction with the service providers and probably require a special warrant to do so."
Police advise when receiving any call demanding money:
- Seek validation of who the caller is by asking for a full name and the company or agency details.
- Validate the phone number of the caller and ask that they call you from a landline if they are using a mobile phone.
- Ignore calls from unknown mobile numbers.
- Don't share your personal details until you are convinced the caller is legitimate.
- If you are threatened, simply hang up.
- Don't trust anyone who calls you and asks for your financial related information such as your account details and password and hang up if asked, call the company on their published contact 0800 number or arrange a meeting at the relevant agency branch.
When you do receive a call resulting in any threatening remarks, report it to the appropriate organisation(s):
* Scamwatch (Ministry of Consumer Affairs)
* DIA (Anti-Spam)
* NetSafe – The Orb (Online scams)
* NZ Police if criminal activity is evident.