Scams and identity theft are worldwide phenomena.   In fact, many of the scams and identity theft schemes threatening Americans come from overseas so it is interesting to take notice of scams going on in other parts of the world that are a pretty sure bet to turn up here in the United States in the not too distant future.  The New Zealand Banker’s Association has been alerting the public about a scam in which people are being called on the phone and told that they are eligible to receive a refund of excessive bank fees that had been charged by their bank.  All that is necessary to process the refund is for the person called to provide his or her bank account number, PIN or other personal bank related information.  Unfortunately, this is a scam and if the unsuspecting victim provides the information, he or she will shortly end up having his or her bank account emptied by the identity thief.

TIPS

Anytime you get a call from someone purporting to be from your bank asking for information, you should be skeptical of the call.  Even if you have caller ID and it indicates that the call is indeed from your bank, you cannot be sure that the call is from your bank because sophisticated identity thieves are able to “spoof” a telephone number to make it appear on your caller ID as if it was coming from your bank when in truth, it is not.  The bottom line is that you can never be sure of the identity of anyone who calls you on the phone.  If you have any thought that the call might be legitimate, it is a simple matter to hang up the phone and call your bank at a number that you know is accurate to find out if indeed the call was legitimate.  Similar scams that we have already seen in this country may involve the assertion that your account’s security has been breached or the bank is updating its security system.  Whatever the basis for the call, never give your personal information over the phone to someone you have not called.