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Here’s how to avoid being caught out by the newest phone scam.

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The latest phone scam: international robocalls that hang up on you

Are you getting calls on your phone from unknown international phone numbers – only for them to hang up rapidly?

If so, you’re far from alone. New Zealand is currently being targeted by robocalls, i.e. automated phone calls from a piece of software that’s working its way through NZ phone numbers.

How does the phone scam work?

The phone scam comes into play when people call the number back, be it out of curiosity, or concern for a friend or family member overseas.

When you call the number back, nothing happens, and you’re on the line for approximately half a minute. And you could be charged anywhere between $1 to $50 a minute. This is known in the telecommunications industry as a ‘wangiri scam’.

What’s more, the calls often don’t come from the location indicated by the international calling code, as the phone scammers tend to use internet-based phones to hide their true location. The scam phone calls often come from Bangladesh, Canada, Cuba, Morocco, and the UK. This makes the numbers very hard to track, and you can’t block the numbers, because they use a variety of different numbers to call from.

How to avoid the phone scam

To avoid the phone scam, don’t call back any international number you don’t recognise.

What do you do if you’ve fallen victim to a robocall phone scam?

If you’ve called back one of the scammer numbers, check your phone bill. If you see an unusual charge on it that you’re not expecting, call your phone company to contest the charge.