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ATM PIN scam hits New Zealand

bank scam, atm pin

New Zealand Police are warning people to be wary about a scam that involves people being asked to think of a 4-digit number to receive a hamper full of groceries.

The victims are people who have had their wallets or purses stolen a few days earlier and unbeknownst to them, this is an attempt to get the pin number to their EFTPOS (debit) and credit cards.

Investigations are underway into two cases that have recently occurred on the North Shore and involve the following;

1. The victim has their wallet or purse stolen. In both cases the belongings have been stolen from work places, eg reception desk and behind a shop counter, by offenders who distract the victim’s and take their wallets or handbags.

2. Hours later the victim receives a fraudulent phone call from a woman claiming to be calling from Countdown supermarket. The caller says to the victim that they have won a grocery hamper worth $500. The caller is very convincing and tells the victim that they need to provide a 4-digit security number, so that when they go to pick the hamper up from the supermarket, they can tell the staff the 4 digit number, and that will identify them as the winner.

3. The victim then thinks of a 4-digit number and gives this to the caller. However, as many people might do, they provide a number that is the same one they use as their pin number to their EFTPOS or credit card. There is no hamper and Countdown are not running any promotion of this type, nor do they ask winners to ever provide a security number.

4. The fake caller is actually the person who stole their wallet hours earlier, and the criminal goes on to try and withdraw money from the victim’s account, using their stolen cards and the 4-digit number provided for the supermarket hamper.

Police are following strong lines of enquiry, but are warning the public that the offender/s are very convincing; “Because the callers aren’t outright asking for your pin number, it’s easy to be tricked. A lot of people, if asked to think of a 4 digit number, would give the same number they use as their pin, because it’s easy to remember” says Constable Damian Albert, North Shore Police.

“It’s possible that the offender/s have used other business names with similar scenarios, and we’d like to hear from anyone who has had their cards recently stolen on the North Shore and has then experienced this type of phone call’ says Constable Albert.

“It’s also a message to the wider community to never give out a number that you use as a pin number, for another purpose.”

 (Photo credit: Catatronic)

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Visa free entry for Indians to New Zealand?

Will Indians get visa-free entry to New Zealand by the end of 2011? If you think it will, you can put your money where your mouth is.

New Zealand’s online predictions market, iPredict Ltd, launched stocks to predict whether the Kiwi Government will waive visa requirements for India – an emerging tourist market.

The iPredict stock predicts whether New Zealand will announce by December 2011 that it will waive visitor visa requirement for tourists travelling on an Indian passport.

India is one of the top 10 source countries of visitor to New Zealand. While a whopping eight are on the visa-waiver list, India and China are the only two countries in the top 10 whose nationals have to pay a sizeable visa fees and obtain a visa.

100% Pure New Zealand fun. Image: Tourism New Zealand

China and India are emerging economies, and strong growth in tourist numbers is projected in the next five years, according to iPredict’s chief executive, Matt Burgess.

More than 27,000 Indians visit New Zealand every year, according to a Tourism New Zealand estimate. In 2010, Indian tourists spent 13 days on average in New Zealand, and spent NZ$55 million. Nearly three in four (76 percent) Indian visitors to New Zealand are first time visitors.

Indians are among the world’s most optimistic consumers in terms of job prospects, personal finances and attitude to spending, according to a Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Survey. After saving and investing, Indians love to spend their spare cash on holidays and vacations, another survey found.

“We are interested to see if the market believes the Government will relax visa requirements to attract more tourist dollars from these valuable economies,” Burgess said.

Change has already begun for China. Immigration New Zealand has simplified visa processes for Chinese tourists and increased staff numbers at its three China branches. Providing further boost to Chinese visitors to New Zealand, China Southern Airlines began flights from Guangzhou to Auckland.

“China is our second largest trading partner, and Chinese tourists are among the biggest spenders when travelling in New Zealand. It makes sense that the Government would look for ways to encourage additional travellers from China,” Mr Burgess said.

However, New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development predicts a 60 percent increase in Indian traveller numbers over the next four years.

India has experienced strong economic growth, and has a growing middle class with propensity to spend on international travel.

“New Zealand is growing in popularity, partly thanks to the country’s recent starring role in Bollywood blockbuster I Hate Luv Storys,” says Tourism New Zealand outlook. “But lack of airline seats is restraining growth.”

Bollywood new zealand i hate luv storys

"New Zealand is growing in popularity, partly thanks to the country's recent starring role in Bollywood blockbuster I Hate Luv Storys," - Tourism New Zealand

There are no direct flights from India to New Zealand, and tourist numbers from India have not shown any significant growth. While Air India is likely to start flying direct from Delhi to Melbourne this year, the country’s national carrier has no similar plans for New Zealand. “It’s not a lucrative market for us,” an Air India official told The Global Indian magazine.

Which are the visa-free countries?

If you hold a passport of any of New Zealand’s visa-free countries, you don’t need a visa to visit New Zealand. List of visa-free countries for New Zealand.

If you are a passport holder of any other country, for example India, you will need to apply for a visitor visa.

What are the visitor visa requirements for New Zealand?

You need to demonstrate to Immigration New Zealand that you are of good character and are in good health. You need to apply for the visa that matches your intentions of the visit.

Your passport must be valid for minimum three months past the date you are to leave New Zealand.

In the light of alarming number of overstayers, the government is concerned about your intention to leave. You need to show a proof about your intention to leave New Zealand and that you have the means to leave the country.

You need to show your return air tickets. You also need to show an evidence of funds – NZ$1000 per person per month of stay, or $400 if accommodation is already paid for.

How long can I stay?

The maximum validity of a visitor visa is nine months.

Visit Immigration New Zealand website for more details.