NZ Police has issued a warning to members of the public about a WhatsApp scam currently circulating the country.
Police say scammers are using the popular WhatsApp messaging app to impersonate family members or friends in difficulty and in need of money.
This type of scam has evolved from fraudsters impersonating a bank, Police or a government agency, Police said in a statement.
“Victims of the scam have received a message from an unknown number, claiming to be a loved one who has just lost their phone and got a replacement.”
The scammer then attempts to obtain the victim’s credit card information.
“These kinds of scams run constantly and while most people will not respond or buy into them, some people are more vulnerable,” Police said.
“We urge people to have conversations with vulnerable or elderly family members, to help ensure they are aware of the tactics often used by scammers and don’t become victims.
“Please remember that a bank, Police, or a government agency will never contact you out of the blue and ask for your password, credit card or bank details.”
The Police message for scams like this is simple – do not engage with anyone on the phone, and if you think you are being scammed report the incident immediately.
“If you are in doubt as to a person’s legitimacy ask if you can call them back, or if they are claiming to be a family member or friend ask them a personal question – for example their date of birth, maiden name, pet name or name of a sibling.”
Anyone who believes they are a victim of a scam, in person, over the phone or online, should immediately report it to their bank, and then to their local Police.
Policy Manager at WhatsApp, Kathryn Harnett says WhatsApp protects users’ personal messages with end-to-end encryption, but reminded users they have a role to play in keeping their accounts safe by remaining vigilant to the threat of scammers.
“We advise all users never to share their six-digit PIN code with others, not even friends or family, and recommend that all users set up two-step verification for added security,” she said.
“And if you receive a suspicious message – even if you think you know who it’s from – calling or requesting a voice note is the fastest and simplest way to check someone is who they say they are. A friend in need is a friend worth calling.”