Kiwis warned of Air New Zealand scam

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 16:03 28/05/2014

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Telephone scammers promising thousands of dollars off an overseas holiday are using Air New Zealand's name as a way to increase trust and their chances of getting their hands on consumers' credit card details.

Air New Zealand spokeswoman Brigitte Ransom said the airline had been contacted by people who had received automated phone calls claiming to be from Air New Zealand offering "significant credits" to be redeemed on Air New Zealand bookings.

"We fly 13 million customers each year and these fraudsters are relying on the fact that many New Zealanders will recall a recent journey in order to attempt to establish a rapport and convince them the call is genuine," she said.

Air New Zealand did not use automated calling systems, she said, adding that the airline was limited in what it could do to prevent fraudsters using Air New Zealand's name.

The company had notified the Department of Consumer Affairs, its customers through social media and its 11,000 staff to warn them of the scam, Ransom said.

Air New Zealand advised customers not to provide any personal details and hang up immediately if they received a phone call from an automated system claiming to be from Air New Zealand, she said.

Ransom did not say how many people had fallen for the scam and how much money had been lost.

On Monday, Aucklander David Long received an automated call claiming to be Air New Zealand.

Long said the message told him he had won $900 towards his next flight because he had recently flown with Air New Zealand.

He was then asked whether he was over 30 and had a credit card.

Long said he was then put through to a woman who told him he had won a $2500 discount on a holiday to Thailand.

When he asked about how the offer was linked to Air New Zealand, the woman hung up.

Long said he knew the call was a scam almost immediately but stayed on the line because he was curious.

People who believed they were getting a good deal could fall for the scam, he said.

"Obviously they are preying on people who they think are after a once-in-a-lifetime bargain," he said.

MBIE spokeswoman Peta Baily Gibson said last year 63 New Zealanders reported losses totalling more than $38,000 to holiday and travel scams.

"Scammers are constantly finding new ways to trap their victims into giving them money and any large consumer-facing company can be targeted in this way," she said.

Hardware retailer Bunnings, for example, was currently dealing with fake online ads to win $2000 vouchers, Baily Gibson said.

Genuine-looking emails from banks or IRD were also common scams, she said, adding that last year scammers cloned the IRD website in an attempt to trap people into giving out their personal information and credit card details.

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Baily Gibson said next week's Fraud Awareness would focus on raising awareness about the prevalence of online scams.

- Stuff

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