Phone scams are a common problem, and with scammers becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approaches, it can be difficult to recognise a scam call.
How to recognise a scam call
A scam call may have one or more of these common characteristics:
- Unexpected contact from someone claiming to be from a trusted organisation, such as a bank, utility provider or even a charity.
- The call could come from a blocked or foreign number, but scammers can also disguise the number to look local using a method called number spoofing.
- Requests for money or personal information such as credit card details or passwords over the phone.
- Pressure to make a decision quickly or face negative consequences.
- Telling you that there is a problem with your computer and that they can help you fix it.
- Telling you something that you think is too good to be true such as winning a prize in a competition that you don’t remember entering.
Consumer Protection have a good area of their website dedicated to help you identify a scam. Read more.
Be wary of 'out of the blue' contact.
A telecommunications company would never call a customer out of the blue and request remote access to their device/s. If this happens to you, it is a scam, and the best action you can take is to hang up.
It is only when a customer has requested assistance to troubleshoot a technical issue, that a provider will suggest remote access. So the request will always be initiated by the customer and additional security measures will be in place.
Similarly, a telco would never ask for credit card details over the phone to fix or diagnose a problem.
What is the Scammer trying to achieve?
Scammers may all work in different ways, but generally speaking the end goals are to:
- Get access to your finances.
- Steal your identity.
- Buy goods and services.
- Access your business networks or systems.
What to do if you think you have received a scam call
1. If you receive an unexpected phone call that seems suspicious, the best action to take is to hang up. Do not share any personal information with the caller.
2. If the caller has told you they are from a particular company, ring the company (find their number elsewhere, don’t call back the number they called you from) and alert them to the call you have just received. They will let you know if it was a legitimate call.
Please also report any instances of suspected scam calls to your telecommunications provider so they can investigate the matter and block the number if necessary. It is helpful if you can provide your telecommunications provider with:
- Your name
- Your account number
- Your contact number
- The number you received the call on
- The number you received the call from (if this is available)
- The time and dates that the calls were received
- A description of what happened on the call
3. All scams should also be reported to Netsafe, regardless as to whether it was an internet, phone or other type of scam, and regardless of whether or not you were tricked by the scam. Report a scam to Netsafe here.
Scam reporting for telcos
Top tips if you think you have been scammed
1. Ignore the calls and caller’s instructions.
2. Do not provide any personal details at all including your name, your spouse or relative names, driver licence details, passport details, contact details, credit card details, bank details, or transfer of money over the phone or through Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero etc.) or gift vouchers or cards (iTunes etc.)
3. Scammers may use caller ID spoofing technology to mask the phone number the call is coming from, and display a different number. Calls that appear to be from a local number, or number that belongs to someone you know, may not be originating from New Zealand at all. If you receive a suspicious call from a local number, hang up, wait five minutes, then call the number back to check the validity of the request (this step does not provide 100 per cent guarantee as scammers may purchase NZ numbers and use them to funnel calls overseas, but provides good verification in case they are spoofing spouse/friend/relative or NZ government agency/company numbers).
4. If you think you may have shared credit card or bank details with a scammer, call your bank immediately. If you may have shared a password, change it along with any other accounts that use the same login information. It can also be worthwhile to scan your computer for viruses if a scammer may have accessed your computer.
5. Report any incidents of scam calls, including Wangiri calls, to your service provider. If you are the victim of a targeted scam where the callers have access to your personal information, also contact NZ Police or CERT NZ.
6. Switch off the device (phone or computer) if you’ve followed any instructions given by the scammer and take it to an authorised technician.
7. Change any passwords on a different device to the one that has been accessed by scammers.
Other types of scams and spam
There are multiple organisations who all share the responsibility of dealing with online harm, including spam and scam reporting. Type of online scams and spam include unwanted email, fax, SMS TXT and other instant messages that are commercial by nature. Each organisation covers a specific area of content and has a role to play in protecting people from online scams and spam. CertNZ has a great PDF you can download to see which organisation you should report instances of scam and spam events. Download it here.
More information can be found at scamwatch.govt.nz including a list of agencies who can help if you think you've been a victim of a scam.