GrownUps accepts no responsibility for decisions made by Members or any other persons as a result of using or relying on any information on the GrownUps website. GrownUps does not give any financial advice or make any recommendation of any product or service.

Scammer in your pocket

Get Scam Savvy with your smartphone

There’s no denying how much smartphones have changed our lives – mostly for the better. But like with any new technology, scammers have adapted to take advantage.
Whether your smartphone is in your pocket or plugged into its charger, you’re at risk of being scammed – unless you know how to avoid it.

Don’t become a victim

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) is committed to improving the financial wellbeing of New Zealanders – and a big part of that is providing education on scams. It’s Scam Savvy website is a safe place to practise identifying scams, and the Scam Savvy Mobile module is great for learning more about mobile-specific scamming.

The website also includes a Scam Savvy Intro quiz with Sam the Scammer (who wants to trick you!), and Scam Savvy Trending where you can keep an eye on scam trends, report and read about active scams in New Zealand.

With the help of BNZ, here are some common ways scammers may try and connect with you on your phone, and tips to help you confidently identify and avoid these scams.

One-ring scams

Ever received a call from an unknown number that rings only once? This is a classic mobile phone scam. They hope that you’ll be curious and call the number back. When the scammer picks up, they’ll begin to charge you for insanely expensive ‘connection’ and ‘call’ fees.

If you don’t recognise the missed-call number, don’t call back! If you do give in to your curiosity and call back, check your phone bill and get in touch with your mobile plan provider if you’ve been charged for the call.

Ransomware scams

Yes, your phone can be held to ransom. While you’re browsing the internet on your phone, your phone might freeze, and a screen might appear.  If it tells you you’ve violated a law – and in order to use your phone again, you’ll have to pay a fine – it’s probably a scam. Don’t pay the fine! Instead, boot your device into safe mode and delete the app.

To avoid a ransomware scam altogether, only download apps from your phone’s branded app store, like the Google Play Store or iTunes Store, and be careful what you download (just like you would on your computer).

Social media spam

Social media platforms are great for sharing family photos – but be wary of accounts and followers you don’t know. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all full of fake profiles – and nothing good generally comes from them.

Be vigilant when accepting friend requests. You wouldn’t want a stranger coming into your home to look at all your family photos, so why let them online? If a stranger does send you a link out of the blue, don’t click on it – this is a common tactic used by scammers.

If your social accounts have been hacked, immediately change your passwords and let the social platform know.

Vishing (voice phishing)

A different kind of fishing, voice phishing is where scammers call you pretending to be your bank to notify you that your account has been hacked. They say that they require your security details – account number and PIN – to fix the problem.

No bank in New Zealand will ever call you and ask for your PIN – simple as that. Don’t ever give anyone your personal information over the phone. Banks like to stay on top of scams affecting their customers, so make a quick call to yours to  let them know if this happens to you.

Text scams

Similar to one-ring scams and vishing, you might receive a text from someone claiming to be your bank or your friend, prompting you to text back. The text could include a website link or phone number to call, as sometimes scammers will attempt to charge you exorbitant amounts for the text you send back, or hack your phone for personal information.

Be cautious of text messages from numbers you don’t know – especially if the number isn’t from a New Zealand phone. Don’t respond to short phone numbers like 4077 – these are reserved for email-to-phone services commonly used by scammers. And remember, it’s very unlikely you’ve won a prize for a competition you never entered.

Ready to get Scam Savvy?

Scammers are master manipulators and will take advantage of any opportunity. If you’re keen to stay ahead of the scammers, and learn how to be smarter with your smartphone, try BNZ’s Scam Savvy Mobile online tool.