Thursday, August 6, 2020

This article outlines how to recognise scams, identifies common types of scams targeting internet and phone users, gives some tips on how to deal with them and who to contact.

How to recognise a scam call or message (via text or email)

These are some of the tells from scams and scammers:

  • The caller or number that has messaged you is unrecognised or from overseas.
  • The person asks for personal details such as usernames or passwords.
  • The person asks for your Credit Card details, such as expiry date, pin number or security digits.
  • It mentions money in some aspect. For example: Congratulations you have won X amount of money! Please click this link to collect (or call this number).
  • There is pressure to decide quickly or there are said to be negative consequences for not complying with the request.
  • Unexpected contact from someone that claims to be from an organisation that you should be able to trust (i.e. a bank or a charity).
  • You are asked to give access to your computer or share your screen.
  • The email address has got numbers where letters should be or has a random string of numbers or letters mixed in with the parts that look legitimate or official.
  • The message asks you to click a link for more information.
  • There are spelling or grammar errors throughout the message.
  • The person you are talking to keeps asking for more information about you, including your physical address, email address and other personal details.

Always remember the two golden rules:

1. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
2. Any unexpected message or call asking for money or your personal details is suspicious and likely to be a scam.

Types of Scams

Wangiri-type calls:

The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) put out a warning about these types of calls increasing in NZ back in June. Wangiri calls are mystery calls from overseas numbers, that the caller will end after one or two rings. Their aim is to entice you to call back the number and an automated message will play that will try keep you on the line for as long as possible, while they charge you premium rates for the connection.

Telco provider scam:
Scammers will often impersonate providers and attempt to collect payments over the phone or by sending you messages telling you that your bills have been unpaid. If you receive any calls or messages asking for your account details, internet banking information, credit card numbers or requests to click links/allow access to your computer, ignore these/hang-up and contact your provider directly using the number on their website.

Technical support scam:
For this scam, scammers impersonate official companies that provide technical support, such as Microsoft, and will ask for access to your computer or will try to sell you overpriced support packages in exchange for PC protection. Ignore the call or message and reach out to the registered number of the company to check that the call and sales package are legitimate.

Government grant scam:
Any offer of free money is a scam and should be ignored and reported. The grant is fictitious and the number that called or messaged you imploring you to collect your money should be reported.

Inland Revenue scam:
The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) will not call you over the phone and ask for your details to collect payments. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the IRD and asking you for money or your account details, you should hang up, contact the IRD directly and inform them of the call.

Targeted impersonation scam:
Scammers will target friends and families in the same areas to try and build trust, gain knowledge of people’s personal information and then use this knowledge to create convincing scenarios they can use to extract money from you in. An example of this is the Police Scam, where scammers will use ‘number spoofing’ to pretend that the number they are using is your friend or family members and that they have been arrested. No police officer will ask for cash over the phone, hang up and report the call to police.

Romance scams:
This is when a scammer will take advantage of someone looking for romance online, will build a relationship with them and start asking for gifts, personal details, intimate images or money once they have gained their trust – all without meeting the person. These scammers will often use fake profiles, names and personas in order to make it harder to track them down once the deception is discovered.

When a scammer sends emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to gain access to an individual’s personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. These emails often include links that seem to be from the brands being impersonated and clicking the link can lead to computer hacks or personal information breaches.

Text scams:
Similar to phishing email scams but in text form – also known as Smishing (phishing via SMS). Normally, the message invites you to verify your account details, make a payment, or claim a prize by calling a number or tapping an official looking link. Do not call the numbers or tap any links that are sent-through.

What do I do If I’m the target of a scam or I realise that I have been scammed?

What to do if you receive a scam call:
Report any scam calls to your telecommunications provider and provide as much information as you can about the message or call you received. Provide the call date and time, as well as the caller’s phone number, details and any messages or instructions that they sent to you.

What to do if you receive a scam email or text message:
Report the scam emails to your email provider by marking it as spam. DO NOT open the message or any links that are attached to the email.

What to do if you are the victim of a scam or hack:

  1. Stop all contact with the scammer
  2. Do not make any further payments
  3. Contact the bank or service you sent money through, cancel your cards, etc…
  4. Report the scammer
  5. Contact one of the following organisations to receive support and specialist help with your case:

About us

What is TDR and what do we do?
TDR stands for ‘Telecommunications Dispute Resolution’ a free and independent service that helps consumers manage complaints about any product or service from their telecommunications provider. We resolve complaints about landline, mobile and internet issues.

Why are we sharing this?
We decided to do a blog to inform people about the trending topics happening in the telecommunications industry, as well as sharing our knowledge of disputes in the sector.