No one is immune to falling victim to a scam, so what do you do when you think someone you love is caught up in one?
Whether it’s a family member or close friend, it can be difficult to know how to approach the situation and the longer it goes on for, the higher the financial and emotional toll will be.
Scams don’t just result in financial losses, but they can also cause feelings of embarrassment, shame and regret.
So, REDnews sat down with Westpac’s Financial Crime Management Team to find out the best way to support someone in your life if they get caught up in a scam.
“Someone in the midst of a scam may have already lost a lot of money and are finding it difficult to face the reality of their situation. Or they may feel embarrassed or ashamed to have become involved in a scam. Your care and support during this time is vital in assisting them with finding their way out and dealing with the impact it has on their life,” the team said.
“One of the biggest challenges can be convincing them that they are involved in a scam. They may have a significant financial or emotional investment in it and accepting that it’s not real can be extremely hard. People often think ‘just one more payment’ and they will get what they were promised, but this is never the case.”
So, what can you do to help?
Six steps to help: Advice from the fraud team
- If possible, have them contact their bank immediately: The best thing they can do is contact their bank as soon as possible and follow the advice given. Staff are there to help and assist with finances. If something doesn’t feel right, have them reach out to their local branch, or call their Contact Centre. Westpac has a team dedicated to assisting customers with fraud and scams. Encourage them to be honest with their bank about what has happened so staff can help protect their money.
- Do some research online: If you can find information about similar scams or scam alerts that mention the person or business that your family member has been dealing with, this can be very helpful in convincing them. The Financial Markets Authority (FMA), Consumer Protection, Netsafe and Cert NZ have useful information about scams.
- Continue gently talking to them: Remind them that scams are designed to trick people. They are often sophisticated and targeted. Anyone can become involved in one and your family member is not alone. According to Netsafe, New Zealanders lost $19 million to scams last year.
- Advise your family member to cease all contact with the scammers: Help your family member to block the scammer from all platforms and if possible, they should change their phone number (if the scammers have these details). They may get messages or calls offering assistance to get their money back, but these are also scams.
- Report the scam: Encourage them to report the scam to the NZ Police, Netsafe or Cert NZ. By doing this, they can help prevent it happening to others.
- Help arrange support: If they are willing, talk to them about their circumstances. Try to understand if there are reasons why they may have been more vulnerable to a scam, so you can help arrange support that they need.
Preventing Further Scams
If someone has been involved in a scam, they may be at risk of getting targeted again. However, there are ways to prevent this.
Encourage them to build their support network: It’s always good to have more than one person in place with the necessary capabilities and right values to provide support. These could include trusted family and friends, bank staff, legal and financial advisors, accountants or other professional service providers.
Help them build engagement: If your family member is 50 years or older, find a local SeniorNet branch for them to engage with. SeniorNet have workshops to help teach people of all digital abilities to stay safe online
Everyone should take steps to secure their personal information and banking details. Here are some general tips for staying safe:
- Keep your information safe – avoid posting personal details online or sharing information with people you have not met.
- Beware of requests for your details or money. Check the request is genuine before proceeding.
- Use strong, unique passwords. A Password Safe is recommended - this allows you to safely and easily create a secured and encrypted username and password list.
- Keep your passwords, security codes and login credentials safe.
- Only log into sites you trust.
- Avoid opening attachments or clicking on links in emails unless you can confirm the correspondence is genuine.
- Be wary of any unusual requests via phone, email, text or social media.
- Do not allow anyone remote access to your devices.
- Keep your devices updated and run anti-virus checks regularly.
- Set up security alerts on Westpac One to keep track of online activity.
- You can check if your data has been compromised on the website haveibeenpwned.