How to protect your hard earned money from scammers who want it.

In the middle of a busy day, Mike received an email from his bank. The bank had noticed a possible fraudulent transaction, sending $1,000 to an overseas account and if he wanted to cancel it, he needed to log in.

Freaking out, Mike immediately clicked the link and logged into his bank account. The log in failed, Mike’s stomach dropped. He tried again, still no luck. Worried a hacker had locked him out of his account, he decided to check the banking app on his phone.

Nothing. No transactions, no sign anyone had been in his account. Weird. An hour later Mike’s account was drained, the money sent overseas and his worst nightmare had come true.

Sadly, Mike was one of the thousands of New Zealanders who fall for scams every year. In the first three months of this year, CERT NZ received 1,935 reports from people affected by scams. This type of scam is commonly referred to as phishing. These are the most prevalent, making up 1,370 of those reports.

The reports have a silver lining though. Every report made to CERT NZ about scams helps the government cyber watchdog to help others to avoid the pitfalls and have peace of mind if they do get stung.

CERT NZ director Rob Pope encourages anyone caught up in a scam to report it as soon as possible.

"Scammers are indiscriminate in who they target," Pope said, "and every report helps us know what threats are out there so we can protect others."

"We know it’s a stressful time when these sorts of incidents happen, and the scammers add extra pressure by preying on fear and urgency. But you need to report it as soon as possible so you can get help and stop others from getting affected."

Remember to pause, take a breath, and think before responding to unsolicited messages or phone calls. 'Does this message look legitimate?' Or if it’s a deal that’s too good to be true, maybe it isn’t true? Tech companies and banks won’t call you out of the blue and ask you to provide financial or login details. And if they do say you’ll call them back via the number on their website.

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

  1. Stop all contact with the scammer
  2. Do not make any more payments
  3. Contact the bank or service you sent money through
  4. Report the scam 

Reporting puts you in touch with someone who can give advice specific to your situation. It also helps other people avoid similar scams.

How to report a phishing scam

  • Report any suspicious phone number to your telco, then block them
  • If the scam came via a text message forward it for free to 7726

Steps you can take that will give you peace of mind

Doing those two things will go a long way to help protect from these scam types.

Learn what types of scams to look out for, how to avoid them and how to take action if you are scammed:

Scammed? Take action