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Friday, July 23

Beware of credit card scam

The Commerce Commission is urging New Zealanders not to fall for a scam in which people are being phoned and told they are eligible for a refund for overcharges on their credit card, but they have to pay the scammers money in order to receive the payment.

The Commission has received several reports in recent days from people who have been phoned. The story used by the scammers in each case is slightly different but with sufficient similarity to suggest that they are coming from the same organisation.

In each case the complainant has been told they are eligible for a $3,000 refund of overcharges on their credit card. In one case the complainant was told this was “on behalf of the Commerce Commission”. In another case the scammer said they were from the New Zealand Banking Association.

In each case the complainants were asked to pay a sum, ranging from $100 to $300 in order to receive the $3,000 payment. The payments were to be made either through Western Union or the Post Office. Contact details the callers gave were completely fictitious.

“This is without a doubt a complete scam. The Commission has not ordered repayments for credit card overcharges, and neither has the New Zealand Bankers Association,” said Greg Allan, the Commerce Commission’s Enforcement Manager, Wellington .

“The power to stop scams of this type is in the hands of the public. The most effective method is to simply hang up. Do not give your bank account details and do not pay any money. If the caller appears to already have your credit card or bank account details, or you have provided them, contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately,” said Mr Allan.

As the scammers appear to have a number of different ruses, it is important the public is generally alert generally to this type of call. The key alarm bell should be that you are being asked to pay money in order to receive a refund. “Think about it, that’s just not right,” said Mr Allan.

The scam appears to be the same as one operating in Australia at present. People who have been phoned by these scammers should report this to the Commerce Commission on 0800 94 3600 or via the website complaint form at www.comcom.govt.nz, or email contact@comcom.govt.nz

While the Commission does not investigate scams, we can coordinate information and pass on to other agencies.