Scammers claiming to be from a so-called ‘New Zealand Government Grants Board’ are cold calling people to offer them grants of several thousand dollars due to their ‘clean’ record with no criminal convictions or bankruptcies.

After confirming their personal details, the scammers ask the recipient to pay a fee up front in order to receive their grant.

“This is a scam and people who receive such a call should hang up immediately,” says Mark Hollingsworth, Manager of MBIE’s Consumer Protection team.

A similar scam did the rounds in 2014 and 2015, and Consumer Protection is aware of reports of the scam resurfacing this week.

While the shape and the colour of scams can change quickly or resurface from time to time, the signs it’s a scam remain the same. MBIE’s general advice to consumers is to be vigilant and remember:

  • Be cautious – if you get an unsolicited call and the caller requests personal information, it may be a scam. Banks, corporate businesses, government departments like Immigration New Zealand or Inland Revenue never email, call or SMS customers to ask for money. If you receive a request like that, it’s a scam.
  • Hang up and verify who they are by independently finding their contact details from a trustworthy source such as a phone book and contacting them directly. Searching online for the name of the organisation or business online can also help to uncover if it is a scam.
  • Protect your personal information and financial details – don’t provide your details to anyone who has contacted you out of the blue who you don’t know and trust. Even if they claim to be from a reputable company or government department it may still be a scam.
  • If you get a cold call from someone claiming you are entitled to a grant, refund, have won a holiday or have a virus on your computer, hang up immediately.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For more information on scams and staying safe, or to report a scam, visit www.scamwatch.govt.nz (external link) .