As the weather finally starts heating up, many of us will be itching to get…
Technology has the amazing ability to open up our worlds, through ease of communication and helpful aids to guide us through each day.
Unfortunately it also comes with a few risks.
But those risks can be minimised if we are aware of what to be on the lookout for. Online scams come in all sorts of forms – although most follow a pretty common pattern, with key identifying features. And by knowing the telltale signs of how to spot a scam, we can reduce our chances of falling victim to one.
What do online scammers want?
The primary goal of most scammers is money – your money. Some are also looking to steal the identification of individuals as well, so they can pose as a person and commit acts of fraud. But at the end of the day, it’s all a means to financial gain.
Different types of online scams
Knowing the kind of scams out there can help you to be aware of what to look out for. Some of the more persistent ones are:
Romance scams – Where people build trust over the internet which turn into ‘relationships’. Cold calling scams – Someone rings pretending to be a bank provider or computer company, and gains access to an individual’s private information.
Email scams – This scam comes in the form of an email that looks like it is from a bank or some other legitimate organisation, asking the receiver to take an action on a website that has been set-up to capture their private information.
Investment scams – Where an individual is offered a low-risk opportunity to gain a significant return on investment.
Work-from-home scams – If a job to work from home and receive good pay seems too good to be true, it probably is. You’re often asked to receive goods to your address to then ship overseas, or transfer money between NZ and offshore bank accounts.
In general, red flags include being contacted out of the blue (whether over the phone or by email), being asked for a password or to verify account details, requesting remote access to
your computer, requiring you to pay for something in an unusual way, or having to make a decision about something quickly – even if you explain you’re not sure about it.
Your online safety checklist
The good news is, there are plenty of ways to keep ourselves protected from being scammed. Here’s a few tips to get started:
- Banks and other organisations – such as the IRD – will never ask you for your password over the phone, via text or email. If you aren’t sure, you can always call the New Zealand-based business and query the call and/or email.
- You can check email links by hovering over the address with your mouse, and check the return email address too – you can often spot something out of place if you look close enough.
- You’re allowed to hang up on people if you are suspicious. It’s better to be safe than worry about being rude.
- Never give your credit card details or send money to someone you don’t know – even if they act friendly or promise they will pay you back.
- If something sounds too good to be true – it more than likely is.
- Create unique passwords that are hard to guess. Don’t use your street address or name.
- Only access your bank on secure websites that have a padlock symbol in the address bar.
- Keep the security software on your computer up-to-date.
- Don’t use public computers or public WiFi for internet banking.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
If you think you have been scammed, even if you aren’t sure, report it to either the police or Netsafe. If it is bank related – make sure you contact them immediately to get assistance.
Scammers come in all shapes and sizes, and most can be extremely convincing. If you are the victim of a scam, don’t feel embarrassed or that you’re at fault. For more information about online scams, check out Netsafe, New Zealand Police, Sorted.org.nz and Eldernet.
If you think you might like to find out more about what life is like at our lifestyle village, we’d love to hear from you. We welcome your enquiry and will get back to you as soon as possible.