Online Scams

Learn about online scams and how to protect yourself from them.

Online Scams

These days most people can spot the obvious scams and know to avoid international Princesses, prizes for lotteries that they never entered and requests for bank details for banks they don’t even belong to. But the internet is full of scams and they are always evolving. Being savvy is about keeping your guard up, watching out for the signs and not trusting appearances. It’s about arming yourself with the information you need to protect yourself from scams. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs publishes information about different types of scams, how they workd, and what you should do if you’ve been scammed. It has also published a guide with especially for seniors with useful tips to help you to protect yourself from becoming the next scam victim.

This information is drawn from Scams – Get Online Savvy, produced by Consumer Affairs and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

Scammers target vulnerabilities

Scams succeed because they look like the real thing. They speak to a strong need or desire and they push hard for a natural and automatic human response. Scammers win because they target human vulnerabilities, we all have them. We might have an urgent financial need, or be looking for love, or have some cash to invest, or be looking for a new diet plan online. These are just a few scams that target seniors quite deliberately. The guide has plenty more examples as well as real case studies.

Be Savvy to Scams

If you or someone you know may be a victim of a scam then you should report it immediately. You may help prevent the victim from losing more money or being targeted by other scammers. Reporting scams, even though it may seem embarrassing for some people, helps us to warn and protect others.

The Commission for Financial Capability has produced the 'Little Black Book of Scams' to help you spot them, avoid them and offer guidance if you're caught in one.

Reporting Scams

A situation should be reported if you, or someone you know, has ever:

  • Met someone online and sent money to them overseas.
  • Been called out of the blue with an offer to invest funds, sell shares or receive a tax refund.
  • Sent money overseas to receive an inheritance, to receive winnings from a lottery or paid anyother fee to ‘unlock’ further funds.
  • Purchased goods or services online that haven’t showed up.
  • Discovered odd transactions on your credit card after signing up to a website.
  • Been approached by a stranger by email or text to conduct a transaction that’s fallen through.
  • Sent your credit card, passport, birth certificate or other personal details to someone online and don’t feel comfortable with the transaction.
  • Clicked on a dodgy looking link in an email that asks for your personal details.
  • Had your email, bank or social media accounts hacked.

If you, or anyone you know, has received any type of scam then