Beware of COVID-19 misinformation and scamsBeware of COVID-19 misinformation and scams

Scams and frauds exploiting the spread of COVID-19 have been noted overseas and are increasing in New Zealand, with some Taranaki people being the target of a text message scam over the weekend. 

A text claiming to be from a NZ Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) group was sent to approximately 50 people on Sunday 5 April, with a second text offering loans for welfare and food packages also being received. Police have been made aware of this.

Taranaki Civil Defence Emergency Management want to be clear that at no point will a CDEM group contact the public via a text message like this.

Unfortunately, fraudulent activity can increase when there is heightened public awareness about an issue, and the COVID-19 response has fallen victim to this, says Sue Kelly, Alternate Controller.

“It’s disappointing to see scammers taking advantage of people who are already dealing with a disruptive and stressful time,” says Sue.

"Fraudulent behaviour is often successful when people are distracted or stressed, so it’s more important than ever to stop and think about whether something you’ve received is unusual.”

“We encourage anyone who receives anything unusual, especially if asking for bank account details or personal information, to report the activity straight away to CERT NZ."

“This won’t be the last time we hear of scams, so we need to stay vigilant and unite against both scammers and COVID-19,” says Sue. “Please share this with your friends, family and neighbours, especially those more vulnerable to scams such as the elderly, to help educate and inform everyone on this type of malicious behaviour.”

Remember scams and misinformation may arrive in the form of an email, text, phone call or through social media, and it’s important we all be aware of this and report anything out of the ordinary.

Some tips: