Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has become aware of a new wave of scam phone calls from individuals claiming to be working for INZ.

The scam appears to target a variety of nationalities, including Indian and Fijian nationals. INZ is currently assessing the extent of the problem, but since the beginning of June INZ has received about 180 complaints from customers who have been contacted by a scam caller.

These call scams typically involve fraudsters deceiving people into believing they are speaking to an INZ staff member who demand payment from people to avoid deportation or arrest. Usually, the caller will quote reference numbers that appear to reference INZ applications, but are false.  There also seemed to be instances where the caller is asking for payment in the form of iTunes vouchers.

INZ Area Manager Michael Carley says that often the fraudsters have some details of the person they are speaking to such as their name or address.

“Fraudsters can be cunning in their tactics and may call from what appears to be a legitimate phone number when the call is actually made from another number. This technology is known as ID spoofing scams.” Mr Carley says.

“I want to be clear that these calls are not from INZ, we would never ring someone and demand money or the purchase of iTunes vouchers over the phone.  To ensure you don’t fall prey to this type of scam, never give your personal details out in response to such a call or rely on the caller ID as a means of identification. If you think you have been victim to one of these calls it is important to report it to the Police or to Scamwatch.”

Consumer Protection Manager, Mark Hollingsworth says: “Scammers are constantly looking for ways to seek your personal information in order to profit. To protect yourself, get to know about the common types of scams and typical red flags you should be looking out for on Consumer Protection’s Scamwatch page. Be wary of unexpected calls or texts seeking your personal information and do not pay money to anyone you have not met. If in doubt, hang up and report it straight away to help prevent others from becoming the next victim of a scam.”