A scam involving fake text messages about cost of living payments are making the rounds in New Zealand. This scam can be deceiving as it takes advantage of the NZ government's $350 cost of living package that was announced under Budget 2022 to help ease the burden of inflation.
To help spot the fake text and avoid getting scammed, we've put together an in-depth explainer about this issue and information on what to do if you've received one of these texts. If you need support or just someone to talk to, our Sonder support team is available 24/7 to chat whenever you need it.
Spotting the fake SMS message
This scam takes advantage of the aforementioned $350 cost of living package - which is paid out in three instalments to anyone who earns under $70,000 a year, is a New Zealand resident aged 18 and over, and is not receiving the winter energy payment - in order to extract personal and financial details from unsuspecting people.
With the first instalment being paid out on August 1, 2022 (and next instalments arriving on September 1, and October 3), scammers are using it as a timely way to deceive people expecting payment. The fake text being sent out reads "[G0VT] you will receive an amount from the government to view it verify now" followed by a suspicious link that National cybersecurity agency Cert NZ says is dangerous and to not open.
There are a number of signs that reveal this text to be a fake, such as typos like 'G0VT' and poor grammar. Furthermore, if you're eligible for the $350 cost of living package, the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will already have your bank account details and there's nothing more you need to do in order to receive the payment. Here's what the text will look like:
What to do
The first thing to do is to not click on any suspicious link and to forward the fake text to 7726 free of charge. You can also report the scam to Netsafe.
If you've shared personal or financial details in response to the fake text message, you need to:
Contact your bank and the IRD immediately to let them know what happened and ask what they can do to help.
Change the passwords for any online accounts that might be at risk. Make sure to enable two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security.
If you're concerned about any communications received about the cost of living payment, call the IRD directly at 0800 473 777 to verify it. If you need some extra help, you can also chat to the Sonder support team, who can direct you to where you need to go or provide you with extra information.
If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language. Simply start a chat with us via the home screen of the Sonder app.
All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.