The elderly are the latest victims to be targeted in a recent phone scam resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars.

In the scam elderly targets are called by a telco or utility company claiming that there is a problem with their payment, and the service will be cut off immediately if they do not pay. The target is then ‘transferred’ to a bogus bank where their account details – account name, passwords, PIN numbers – are taken so that the scammer can quickly gain access to their bank account and immediately transfer funds out of the account.

The New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Karen Scott-Howman advises caution when you are contacted by your bank asking for financial information, saying “Never give out bank account usernames, passwords, PINs or verification codes. While your bank may ask questions to confirm your identity, it will never ask for this confidential information”.

“Your utility service provider will never call you and then transfer you to your bank. If in doubt, just hang up and call your bank’s 0800 number to report the call”, says Scott-Howman.

The New Zealand Bankers’ Association has simple tips to help you avoid phone scams:

  • Don’t share your bank account login details, cards, PINs or passwords with anyone – not in person, online, over the phone, or in emails or texts. Your bank will never ask you for this information

  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the phone call and you are sure that the number is genuine

  • Don’t call any numbers in spam emails or text messages. Always check the phone number against the one you know to be legitimate.

If you believe you may be the victim of a banking scam, contact your bank immediately.