While it’s great to give people the benefit of the doubt, the reality is that scam artists do exist. The issue is so prominent that experts warn scams can cost Kiwis up to $500 million a year. This means it’s important to arm yourself with the skills to keep your personal information safe, safeguard your hard-earned cash and avoid falling victim to scams. As a rule of thumb, the following details should never be disclosed unless you’re logging in on the official website or speaking directly with an employee you have contacted via the phone or in person.
- Bank account number, online password and pin code
- Login details for websites and your devices
- IRD number
- Passport number
- License number
Never reply to bank emails
An important rule of thumb to remember is that banks will never ask you to confirm your personal details or disclose your passwords by email. If you do receive a message asking for this sort of information, it should immediately trigger red flags. As advised by platforms like Netsafe, never reply and always proceed with caution. If you do need to correspond with your bank visit the branch in person or call the official helpline.
Receiving a phone call from someone claiming there is a major issue with your computer they need to address on your behalf is one of the most common scams in the book. Ideally, they will convince you to give them remote access to your computer, which they can then use to source your personal details, banking passwords and other confidential information. The best way to avoid these scams is to simply hang up. Unless you have personally sought out the service via your internet provider no one should be asking for remote access to your desktop.
Safeguard your banking details
Online shopping can be incredibly convenient, but it also comes with risks. Choose your websites wisely and shop with well-known retailers as they usually have watertight security measures in place. Signing up with payment providers like PayPal can also be a clever way to protect your personal banking details when shopping online.
Ignore text messages
Like suspicious emails, text messages asking you to ‘confirm’ or ‘validate’ our personal details should also be ignored and deleted. If you have any concerns simply get in touch with the agency in question independently.
Don’t respond to threats
Scammers thrive on a sense of urgency and fear which forces people to make uninformed and impulsive decisions. Generally, official organisations like the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will never make threats, insist you make a payment over the phone or refuse to let you speak to an advisor. If something seems like it’s moving too fast or you feel like you’re under pressure, simply disconnect from the interaction and take the time to clear your head and ideally discuss with a third party.
While there are steps you can take to protect yourself again scams, unfortunately, tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated and thousands of Kiwis a year continue to fall victim to fraudulent activity. If you think you’ve been scammed get in touch with the relevant organisation as soon as possible and don’t be ashamed to admit you’ve been duped and seek help.