Have you been targeted by a scam recently? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The best defence is to report those scoundrels to Scamwatch.govt.nz
Private car sales can be risky. Read more on Scamwatch.
Scams succeed because they look like the real thing.
Scams change all the time, always trying new tricks so that they can fool even the most tech-savvy amongst us.
Scammers win because they target human vulnerabilities, and we all have them. We might:
have an urgent need for money or for a job
be looking for love online
have some cash to invest
believe we’ve won a competition
be looking for a place to rent
get a genuine-looking email from your bank, Immigration New Zealand or Inland Revenue.
Recently, there has been a rise in scams on social media such as Facebook, which appeal to the social nature of the site. They rely on users to trust updates from their friends to spread the scams.
Banks, Immigration New Zealand or Inland Revenue never email, call or SMS customers to ask for personal information. If you receive a request like that, it’s a scam.
How you can protect yourself
It is impossible to stay one step ahead of scammers – but there are ways you can try and protect yourself as much as possible.
Be aware of common scams. For example, banks, Immigration New Zealand or Inland Revenue never email, call or SMS customers to ask for personal information. If you receive a request like that, it’s a scam.
If you are applying for a job or to rent a property or buying a car online, make sure the company is legitimate and that you see the actual property or car. Be suspicious of online advertisements promoting the opportunity to work at home – most of them are scams.
You are not alone
Each year tens of thousands of New Zealanders report being targeted by a scam. Data being collected by the Consumer Affairs team suggests that around one in ten people targeted by a scam will become a victim.
There are also increases being seen in immigration scams. Migrants have been receiving phone calls from callers who fraudulently claim to be calling from Immigration New Zealand.
These callers tell the person that there has been a problem with their visa or arrival card information and demand that they pay money into a Western Union account or face serious consequences, such as deportation. These calls are not from Immigration New Zealand.
Often the caller has some details of the person they are speaking to, such as the name, date of birth and/or address. They may also quote reference numbers, although these do not match Immigration New Zealand client or application numbers.
If you receive one of these calls do not pay the money the caller has demanded.
The best defence is to warn others
The best, and sometimes the only, defence against scams is to warn others. If you have been targeted by a scam, report it straight away to Scamwatch and help prevent others from becoming the next scam victim. To promote this, Consumer Affairs is highlighting real victims’ stories on their Facebook page. Join the conversation and share your stories there.