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Fraudsters jump on fee stoush

Fraudsters jump on fee stoush

RICHARD MEADOWS   Stuff.co.nz  02 July 2013

The New Zealand Bankers' Association is warning customers not to be duped by fraudsters who might try to cash in on a legal stoush over bank fees.

Last Tuesday, lawyers filed court documents against ANZ Bank, the first of several major lenders to be sued over "excessive" default fees.

The association, whose members include all the major banks, said today that in a similar class action under way in Australia, many customers were targeted by fraudsters.

The scammers contacted customers by phone, text, email or in person, claiming to be from their bank.

They would then typically offer to release the fees being claimed in exchange for a small payment.

In one case, customers were told they were entitled to an A$2500 refund if they sent A$150 to Western Union accounts in India.

Once alerted to the scams, litigation funder IMF had responded by posting warnings on the class action website and sending letters to clients.

The group running the legal action in New Zealand, Fair Play On Fees, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Association chief executive Kirk Hope said it was likely that fraudsters would capitalise on the group action in New Zealand to get payments from customers or access to their personal banking details.

But "they are unlikely to target only customers who have signed up for the bank fee case".

"All customers will be at risk because of the action," he said.

The technique is an example of "phishing", where scammers spam thousands of email addresses in the hope that a few people will fall for the ruse.

One of the most common phishing scams asks customers to update their account details by typing in their PIN and password.

The message will frequently link to external websites, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated and often mirror the bank's livery.

The tell-tale atrocious spelling and grammar of other spam messages are not always present.

Hope reminded customers never to disclose their PIN or account passwords to anyone.

STAYING SAFE

– Check website addresses carefully. If they are similar to a genuine company's URL, but not quite right, be wary.

- Don't give out account details over the phone unless you made the call and you trust that the number you called is genuine.

- Don't reply to, click on any links or open any files in spam emails.

- Never send your personal details or accounts or passwords in an email.

- Check your account statements and credit card bill regularly.

Source: Ministry of Consumer Affairs.

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