We spend a significant proportion of our time online nowadays. While there’s no question technology has made life easier in many ways, it’s also increased the risks of falling victim to a scam -whether over the phone, by email, on a website, or on social media. Older people who are less familiar or comfortable with digital life can be particularly vulnerable.
As scammers’ tricks grow ever more sophisticated, making them difficult for even savvy tech users to detect, the consequences are also becoming more severe. A case in point is the recent scam that saw some Kiwis lose tens of thousands of dollars after investing in a fake Citibank-branded term deposit.
The sheer number of scams now doing the rounds has led to greater awareness, as well as an uptick in public education campaigns. We’ve rounded up some of the key tips and tricks here to help you recognise the signs of a potential con and how to safeguard your information.
1. Stay informed
One of the first steps to protect yourself from scams is to educate yourself about the common tactics scammers use. Keep up with the latest scams by reading news articles and staying informed about the types of fraud that are currently prevalent. Remember that scammers adapt, so what was common yesterday may not be the same today.
2. Guard Your Personal Information
Your personal information is like gold to scammers. Be cautious when sharing any personal details like your IRD number, bank account information, or passwords, whether online or over the phone – particularly if the initial contact was unsolicited and from an unknown source. Legitimate organisations will never ask you for sensitive information via email or phone.
3. Verify the source
When receiving unsolicited emails or phone calls, always verify the source before taking any action. Scammers often impersonate government organisations, banks, charities, or reputable companies. Don't trust caller ID information, as it can be spoofed. Instead, hang up or delete the email and contact the organisation directly using a phone number you find independently (e.g., from a trusted website or official correspondence).