Nelson grandmother warns elderly against scammers after confronting phone call

Age Concern Nelson/Tasman warn scams come in many different forms and for people to never give out personal details.
Colin Smith

Age Concern Nelson/Tasman warn scams come in many different forms and for people to never give out personal details.

A vulnerable grandmother who almost fell victim to a phone scammer wants to warn others about the "forceful" tactics used to swindle money.

The 80-year-old Nelson woman, who did not want to be named for privacy reasons, said it was the first time she had been approached by a scammer.

She was babysitting her three young grandchildren at her daughter's new Nelson home on Friday when she heard the phone ring.

Feeding the children who are seven, five and two years-old the woman said she had her hands full but picked up the phone.

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There was a woman on the other end who asked to speak with Victoria, the previous owner of her daughter's house.

Once she had explained Victoria no longer lived at the address the woman on the phone passed the call to a man who said he was from Contact Energy.

The man said the power bill had not been paid and electricity would be cut in half an hour if it was not paid immediately.

"I should have clicked then," she said. She told the man her daughter had no outstanding bills before he became forceful on the phone.

The man said the woman's daughter was "scum" which made her realise caller was illegitimate.

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"I got very angry and said, 'don't speak to me like that' and hung up. But it wasn't until then that I cottoned on and I just think it's something I wouldn't like to happen to someone else," she said.

"I felt a bit silly then. It really upset me. When you are older you are a bit vulnerable because you don't think so quickly anymore and you get cross with yourself for being silly."

The woman said with a growing ageing population in Nelson she wanted to inform others that dishonest people attempted to syphon money out of "gullible" people.

Luckily the man on the phone did not press her for personal details, she said.

"I know what to do next time. I guess that's the good thing about it, it makes you aware."

Age Concern Nelson/Tasman manager Sue Tilby said scams and financial abuse increased in the Nelson region last year.

She said they continued to ask people to question anyone they did not know personally and stay savvy when dealing in an online platform.

"Unfortunately, older people are trusting and sometimes being kind and not wanting to turn people down they can get themselves into situations of concern," Tilby said.

"Scams will always, unfortunately, be with us ... if something seems too good to be true it will be."

Tilby said scams came in all shapes and sizes from online, phone, post and door-knocks. She said to never give out personal information or invite people into your home without proper identification. 

Nelson Police crime prevention officer John Price said scams were a regular occurrence which had sadly seen a lot of people lose money.

He said most scams were made by people overseas which made it hard to trace those behind them.

"[Scams are] always there and something that probably has become more prevalent," he said.

"If you have been scammed report it to police ... people need to treat anyone they don't know with a healthy degree of suspicion and find ways to verify the things they are being told [on the phone or internet].

To report a scam visit Netsafe.org.nz or phone 0508 638 723. For more information about the latest scams in New Zealand and ways to protect yourself against criminals visit www.consumerprotection.govt.nz.

 

 

 - Stuff

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