Sadly we know scammers hop into Easter with hollow promises set to cause pain and we’re warning people to be careful when it comes to online scams. Reports to Netsafe have gone up 360 percent over the past four Easter periods making this the most dangerous weekend for the community in terms of online criminal activity as most reports relate to scams. Find out more about the scams we see on a public holiday weekend and how to avoid them below.
COMMON SCAMS DURING HOLIDAY WEEKENDS
Some of the most reported scams that we have seen pop up during this time of year, includes:
- Online Shopping
- Prize or Promotional Scams
- Debt Collection for Non-Existent Bills
- Fake Sextortion
TEN TIPS TO SCAM SPOTTING THIS PUBLIC HOLIDAY
- Contact that is out of the blue – even if the person says they’re from a legitimate organisation like the bank, an embassy or your internet provider
- Getting told there’s a problem with your phone, laptop or internet connection – often they will offer to fix your device or say they are from your phone or internet company
- Being asked for passwords – legitimate organisations will never ask for the passwords to your online accounts
- Needing to verify your account or details – don’t respond or click on any links in the communication even if it looks like it’s from a real organisation
- Trying to get you to move outside of an online trading or booking website or app (like Airbnb) – don’t pay outside of the normal website or app processes
- Offering money or a prize in exchange for something up front – they might say that it’s a processing fee or something similar
- Being asked for money by friends/partners you’ve met online – this is a common tactic, and you should never pay the money without getting advice from someone first
- Unusual ways to pay for something – scammers try to use payments that can’t be traced such as pre-loaded debit cards, gift cards, Bitcoin, iTunes cards or money transfer systems
- Ask for remote access to your device – never do this unless you have actively sought out the service they are providing
- Pressuring you to decide quickly – this could be to avoid something bad (e.g. an account being closed) or to take advantage of something good (e.g. a deal or investment)
We know that the more international a public holiday is in New Zealand, the more active scammers are. So it’s a good reminder to be extra vigilant to unsolicited emails or giving personal information out, such as financial details.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN SCAMMED
Many of these scams are professional operations and these people are very good at their job, so the important thing is not to feel embarrassed and to reach out for advice. If you believe that you have been or may have been scammed, you can contact Netsafe for free and confidential advice on what to do next.
You can report the incident to the Police, but it is very likely the scammer is operating from a country overseas. If you’ve sent money off shore (via a money transfer service) it is unlikely these funds will be recovered or the offender(s) identified, as cyber criminals are very proficient at concealing their identities and often reside in countries that lack reliable law enforcement for NZ Police to liaise with.
WHAT IF A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER IS BEING SCAMMED?
If you suspect a friend or family member is being scammed, you may need to intervene. Think carefully about who the best person is to have the conversation – this should be someone who they trust. The scammers have spent time and effort building trust, so convincing the person targeted that they are being scammed may not be an easy conversation.
It can be difficult to deal with the financial losses involved and the psychological trauma of being defrauded and jilted by someone they’ve come to “know” and care about. Often the person targeted can feel very embarrassed about the situation. After months or years of building up trust, friends or relatives who warn victims that they are being scammed can find the person being targeted is unwilling to believe it’s a scam.
REPORT A SCAM
Help if you have been scammed or think you are about to be scammed: Netsafe can’t open investigations or track scammers, but we can offer support and advice for people who have lost money in a scam, or think they are about to. This includes letting you know the steps you can take depending on the scam you’re in and giving you advice about how to stay safe in future. You can report a scam to www.netsafe.org.nz/report or call us on 0508 NETSAFE.
Our help service is available this Easter from 9am – 5pm.