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Phone Scam warning (10 Nov 2010)

Aggressive foreign scammers are again targeting New Zealanders, this time by urging them to change settings on their computers in an attempt to obtain personal information.

Within the past two days, hundreds of people have received telephone calls from people claiming to be Microsoft employees or from IT companies in Dubai and NZ warning that their computers could be infected with a virus.

The caller - a man or a woman with a foreign accent on a poor line - asks for passwords, which they claim they need to get rid of the virus.

In some cases the caller has become aggressive and defensive when challenged by those who don't believe the story.

Police say anyone who receives such a call should hang up.

Tauranga woman Anita O'Connor said she answered a call from a woman with a thick foreign accent who told her she'd had an error message from her computer.

"She said she was from an IT support company and that I needed to go to my computer now."

Ms O'Connor told the Herald the caller said "do what I say", but instead she challenged her by again asking where she was from.

"The more I kept stalling the angrier she got. I asked her if she could tell me who my internet provider was and she said, 'it's not important'."

Ms O'Connor said she would call her back and requested her name and number, but the woman hung up.

Aucklander Brian Thomas had a similar call, from someone claiming to represent a company in Waitakere - although the caller could not pronounce "Waitakere" properly.

The caller told Mr Thomas his computer had a virus.

"He wanted me to go to my computer and follow his instructions to rectify the 'problem'."

Mr Thomas had other ideas though. "I had some fun first winding the loser up before he got annoyed and hung up on me."

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs's "Scamwatch" advises being "very wary" about giving out PC details over the phone to strangers.

Spokesman Richard Parlett said Scamwatch had noticed an increase in the number of scam bids being made in phone calls, rather than emails.

"It can be a lot harder to put the phone down then to hit delete," Mr Parlett said.

Andrew Koubaridis

'Dangerous' quake advice
circulated By Kirsty Johnston (www.stuff.co.nz)

Civil Defence is alarmed that a "discredited and dangerous" earthquake safety theory is being circulated by email around the country.

Earthquake experts in New Zealand are concerned that people will follow the advice from the email rather than using the "drop, cover and hold" method.

Several agencies, including GNS science and the Earthquake Commission have spoken out against the email, known as the "Triangle of Life." 

The Triangle of Life is a controversial theory advocated by self-described earthquake expert Doug Copp, from California, about how to survive a major earthquake. It involves using the "triangle" created by structural and roof beams when a building collapses to shelter inside. 

Civil Defence said it has had a number of queries from Members of Parliament, schools, Citizens' Advice Bureaux, media and members of the public about the misleading advice, which includes the dangerous statement that "people who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed". 

However, civil defence director John Hamilton said the best advice was still to "drop, cover and hold." 

"With the continuing aftershocks in the Canterbury region it is especially important that advice continues to be followed," Mr Hamilton said. 

He said that the drill practised by school children will protect people in most earthquakes. That drill is to drop, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, and hold on, or shelter against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases etc. 

"In a severe earthquake it is absolutely vital that people respond immediately. Confusion about what to do can result in people getting seriously injured or killed," Mr Hamilton said. 

"Our advice is to identify safe places in your home, office or school before an earthquake so that when the shaking starts you can respond quickly. 

"An immediate response to move to the safe place can save lives. And that safe place should be within a few steps - no more than two metres - to avoid injury from flying debris."

Aucklanders preparing for more bad weather from ex-Tropical Cyclone Wilma
Friday January 28, 2011

Aucklanders are expected to experience bad weather for the second weekend in a row according to the severe weather warning issued by the MetService today.

MetService expects the Auckland region to be hit by severe weather between this evening and midday Saturday with heavy rainfalls and strong or gale force winds.

Aucklanders are advised to exercise caution due to a possibility of surface flooding and slips that may make driving difficult, rising rivers and streams and strong winds.

As Auckland Anniversary weekend approaches many people will be travelling and making plans for the long weekend. Auckland Civil Defence reminds Aucklanders to stay up-to-date with weather forecasts over the next 24 hours.

The Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Coordination Centre is monitoring the weather situation.

The Auckland Council is making sure the stormwater system is clear and Auckland Civil Defence urges people to take the following simple precautions to minimise the impact of this weather.

At home:

  • Check drains and spouting and clear any blockages.
  • Pick up debris around your house that could become airborne.
  • Stay up to date with weather forecasts on TV, radio and the internet.
  • Check on your next door neighbours.
  • If the severe weather hits we would recommend:

  • People stay at home, stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary
  • Power and phone services may be disrupted. We recommend you have a torch and a battery-powered radio so you can listen to weather alerts. You also may want to have a gas cooker ready.
  • On the road drivers are urged to exercise caution:

  • Headlights on.
  • Drive to the conditions.
  • Keep a safe distance from the car in front.
  • Useful websites:

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