Written by a NortonLifeLock employee
Surfing the Internet means possible exposure to online scams, something your children might not have any concept of. If you’re allowing them to go online, it’s imperative that you discuss online scams. Such scams come in a variety of guises, including those that specifically target children.
Let’s look at how to best protect your kiddies from those who would scam them.
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The first step in protecting your children from online scams is to educate yourself on the types of scams currently floating around the Internet.
One type of scam is the free trial offer, which claims to provide, for example, free one-month trials of some “amazing” product.
The fine print of these scams includes terms stating that after the trial period, you’ll be paying for the product once a month … forever.
Common Internet Scams & How to Avoid Them
- Safety News
- Internet Safety: How to Avoid Online Scams
Written by Alexia Chianis | Updated March 18, 2020
Internet fraud is alive and well, and it’s costing victims thousands of dollars. In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3) received 351,937 complaints of online fraud in 2018, with $2.7 billion in reported losses—that’s an average of over 900 per day at $7,672 per person.
Anyone can become a victim of online crime, but older adults tend to be more at risk. According to the IC3, almost 40% of all internet crime victims are over the age of 50. Sadly, this group also reports the greatest number of victims who lose more than $100,000.
We don’t expect you or your loved ones to unplug from the internet, but we do want you to stay safe online. So familiarize yourself with these common internet scams and the proactive measures you can take to avoid them.
The new coronavirus impacts everyday life in surprising ways including its side effects on internet security. One trend is an uptick in scams posing as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), selling bogus cures, and offering great deals on the unofficial COVID-19 currency: toilet paper.
How to Avoid This Scam
Scare tactics aren’t new to scammers, but there’s plenty you can do to skip the scams and protect your personal data:
- Delete emails that claim to come from “official” sources.
Report a scam
If you've been scammed, there are organisations you should report the scam to.
Don't feel embarrassed about reporting a scam – scammers are clever and scams can happen to anyone.
Reporting a scam helps track down and stop scammers. This prevents other people from being scammed.
- protect yourself from further risks
- gather all the details of the scam
- report the scam to us
- report the scam to other organisations
Protect yourself from further risks
It's important you're aware of the many new scams around at the moment because of coronavirus. Scams to look out for include:
- advertising face masks or medical equipment at high prices
- emails or texts pretending to be from the government
- emails offering life insurance against coronavirus
- people knocking at your door and asking for money for charity
If you see emails or texts about coronavirus from someone you don't know, or from an unusual email address, don't click on any links or buy anything.
Don't give money or personal details to anyone you don't know or trust – for example someone who knocks on the door and offers to help.
Before you report a scam, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from things getting worse. Check what to do if you've been scammed.
When to call the police
Contact the police immediately by calling 101 if:
- the scammer is in your area
- you've transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours
If you feel threatened or unsafe call 999.
Gather all the details of the scam
Write down the details of your scam. This will help you remember all the important information when you report it.
Make sure you include:
- who you've been in contact with – write down names, numbers and addresses if you have them
- why you're suspicious
- what information you've shared – for example, passwords, PINs, or bank details
- whether you've paid any money
- how you've paid – for example, credit card or bank transfer
Report the scam to us
How you report the scam to us depends on the type of scam it is.
Reporting an online scam
Online scams are scams that use the internet – for example, social media, emails and websites.
Report online scams through our Scams Action Service.
Reporting an offline scam
Offline scams are scams that don't use the internet – for example, doorstep or telephone scams.
Report offline scams through our consumer service.
What we'll do when you report a scam to us
Once we've got all the information we need, we'll pass this to Trading Standards. We don't investigate scams ourselves.
Trading Standards gathers information about scams so they can take legal action against scammers.
What Trading Standards does
Trading Standards will decide whether to investigate. They might contact you for more information.
Depending on what they find, they could prosecute the scammers or stop them operating.
Even if Trading Standards don't contact you, they might still use your evidence to take action in the future.
Report the scam to other organisations
You should also report scams to other organisations. This increases the chance of scammers being caught and stopped.
You should report all types of scams to Action Fraud, the UK's national reporting centre for fraud.
Action Fraud can get the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau to investigate scams. They'll also give you a crime reference number, which can be helpful if you need to tell your bank you've been scammed. Read our advice on trying to get your money back after a scam.
- It's quickest to report a scam to Action Fraud online, but you can also report the scam by phone.
- Action Fraud
- Telephone: 0300 123 2040Textphone: 0300 123 2050
- Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Calls cost up to 40p a minute from mobiles and up to 10p a minute from landlines. It should be free if you have a contract that includes calls to landlines. Check with your supplier if you're not sure.
There are other organisations you should report your scam to, depending on what's happened.
If you got a scam email
Forward the email to [email protected] It will go to the National Cyber Security Centre – they might be able to stop other people being scammed.
If you've been scammed through the post
Royal Mail investigates postal scams. If you've received something in the post you think is a scam, send it to 'Freepost Scam Mail'. Include the envelope it came in and a completed scam mail report. You can download a scam mail report from Royal Mail or call them and ask for a form and pre-paid envelope.
Email: [email protected]: 0800 011 3466
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
If the scam involves financial services
If the scam involves cryptocurrency, investments, insurance or pensions, report it to the Financial Conduct Authority.
If you think you've been scammed into transferring your pension, contact your pension provider immediately. Then get in touch with The Pensions Advisory Service.
If a scammer is imitating a company or person
Contact the real company or person to let them know their name is being falsely used.
A common imitation scam involves emails, texts or calls that seem to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They might tell you about a tax rebate or ask for your personal information. Report HMRC scams.
Scammed? Take action
Follow these steps if you have been caught in a scam:
What to do now
Stop all contact with the scammer
Once you realise you are being scammed, do not continue the conversation. Hang up the phone. Don’t reply to emails or letters scammers have sent you. If you have been scammed online, block the scammer from contacting you.
Do not make any more payments
It can be tempting to stay involved in the hope you will get some of your money back. You must not make any more payments.
Some scammers target people caught in recent scams, eg by pretending to be an overseas enforcement agency that can return all of your money for a fee.
Don’t give money to anyone on the promise they will get your lost money back. Unfortunately, if you have paid scammers, the chances of recovering your money are not good.
Contact the bank or service you sent money through
If you are the victim of a financial scam, credit card scam or identity theft, contact your bank immediately. They will have a policy in place to deal with fraud. If you have sent money through another bank or transfer service, it’s a good idea to contact the service you used.
Report the scam
Reporting is an important step. It puts you in touch with someone who can give advice specific to your situation. It also helps other people avoid this kind of scam.
Report the scam to Netsafe on 0508 NETSAFE (638723) or use this reporting form(external link) . Netsafe advises on all scams — not just online activity.
If you or someone else is in danger, or a crime is being committed, call 111.
What to do later
Assess your security at home and online
If your personal or financial information has been given out or stolen in a scam, change all of your online passwords on a device not linked to the scam. Use a different password for each account. If your computer or phone has been hacked in a scam, take it to an authorised technician to be cleaned.
CERT NZ are experts in cyber security. See their website for tips on simple ways to improve your cyber safety.
Protect your information online(external link) — CERT NZ
Equip yourself to recognise scams
Anyone can be caught unaware by a scam. Take time to learn about the approaches scammers use and how you can protect yourself.
Talk about what happened
Telling your friends and family about the scam is one of the best ways to take action. It can be hard, but sharing your story is worthwhile because scammers rely on people being secretive. Every person you talk to will be better prepared to avoid scams in the future.
Help is available
It is almost impossible to recover lost money unless a scam has local connections, but advice is available.
List of organisations with specialist knowledge you might find helpful:
Helps New Zealanders stay safe online, with expertise in online bullying, harassment and abuse under the Harmful Digital Communications Act and all types of scams.
Scams — Netsafe(external link)
Ministry of Justice
Provides information on the Harmful Digital Communications Act including the provisions of the Act and Safe Harbour provisions.
Harmful digital communications — Ministry of Justice(external link)
Supports individuals and organisations affected by online incidents, such as online scams or cyber security incidents. Helps people recognise and avoid online scams and fraud.
Responding to cyber threats in NZ — Cert NZ(external link)
Liaises with overseas agencies. Prevents, investigates and prosecutes crime within our communities.
In an emergency, call 111.
Contact us — NZ Police(external link)
- 24/7 support, information, and advice for victims of crime.
- 0800 842 846
- Contact us — Victim Support(external link)
Helps resolve and prevent banking problems, including scam-related issues.
Contact us — Banking Ombudsman(external link)
Commission for Financial Capability
Support and education for helping kiwis get savvy on scams.
Contact us — Commission for Financial Capability(external link)
Financial Markets Authority
Takes investment scam reports. Provides a warnings list and information on how to avoid scams.
Contact us — Financial Markets Authority(external link)
Department of Internal Affairs
Regulates the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, which prohibits the sending of spam.
Spam — Department of Internal Affairs(external link)
The Commerce Commission
Enforces the Fair Trading Act, which prohibits misleading conduct and unfair selling practices by those 'in trade' in New Zealand.
How the commission helps — Commerce Commission(external link)
Serious Fraud Office
Investigates and prosecutes serious financial crime, including bribery and corruption.
Report a fraud — Serious Fraud Office(external link)
If your privacy has been breached you can make complaints the Office of the Privacy Commissioner about breaches of the Privacy Act.
This is the largest court in the country and deals with many of the legal issues affecting New Zealanders. The District Court deals with claims more than $15,000 (the limit for the Disputes Tribunal), up to $350,000.
- Civil Court — District Court(external link)
- Is this a scam?
- How to avoid scams
Tips for Avoiding Online Shopping Scams & What to Do If You’re a Victim of One
The Internet has made it simple and seamless to visit an online retail store, browse through its goods by the dozen, add one or two products of your choice to a shopping cart, and click to buy.
But with simplicity comes bigger challenges. One of the top issues of online shopping is its security concerns. So far this year, over one thousand shoppers in Australia alone have already reported cases of online shopping scams, and 56.6 percent of these cases come with huge financial loss, according to a report by Scam Watch.
As the Internet becomes our everyday tool to trade and gossip and consume content, we can’t stop buying and selling online, even though we are at risk of getting ripped off by get-rich-quick swindlers. However, we can do a lot to prevent our monies and our items from being hijacked.
This article offers eight actionable tips for smart online shopping. These tips are categorized into two sections:
- Prevention tips—how not to get scammed while shopping online, and
- After the incident tips—what to do after you’ve been scammed.
Let’s look at each of these sections more closely.
Start by answering these four questions:
Is the site secured?
The next time you visit an e-commerce store, the first security check to do is flick your eyes over to the address bar on the upper left side of the web page. Examine the URL of the page. Is it an HTTP or HTTPS?
Example HTTP and HTTPS sites from Safari
HTTPS means any information you enter into the site (e.g., username and password, financial or credit card details) will be encrypted and protected from interception or eavesdropping by malicious parties.
Unfortunately, many phishing sites can appear safe simply because they use HTTPS. In this case, your information will still be encrypted, but it doesn’t matter if you’re submitting it to a phishing or scam site that happens to use HTTPS. Your data is falling into the wrong hands regardless.
So in addition to checking for HTTPS, you should see if the company name is included in the URL. This can help you determine if the site is actually operated by the company and isn’t an imposter or scam site.
Not all sites use the type of technology that results in their verified identity information being displayed in the address bar and this isn’t 100 percent foolproof regardless, so check your gut.
If something seems “off,” walk away.
Is the site reliable?
You don’t want to do business with unreliable websites—sites that house multitudes of hackers and cyber criminals or that sell bogus products and swindle users. You want to deal with reliable sites. But how can you tell if a site is reliable?
Remote access scams
Remote access scams try to convince you that you have a computer or internet problem and that you need to buy new software to fix the problem.
How this scam works
The scammer will phone you and pretend to be a staff member from a large telecommunications or computer company, such as Telstra, the NBN or Microsoft. Alternatively they may claim to be from a technical support service provider.
They will tell you that your computer has been sending error messages or that it has a virus. They may mention problems with your internet connection or your phone line and say this has affected your computer's recent performance. They may claim that your broadband connection has been hacked.
- The caller will request remote access to your computer to ‘find out what the problem is’.
- The scammer may try to talk you into buying unnecessary software or a service to ‘fix’ the computer, or they may ask you for your personal details and your bank or credit card details.
- The scammer may initially sound professional and knowledgeable—however they will be very persistent and may become abusive if you don't do what they ask.
You don't have to be a Telstra or Microsoft customer to be called by these scammers. You don’t even have to own a computer!
Banking and credit scams
How to spot and report scams and protect yourself
If someone you don't know asks for your personal details or offers you a loan, it could be a scam. Scammers can use your personal information to steal your money and run up debts in your name.
If someone contacts you about an investment that you think could be a scam, see investment scams.
How to spot a scam
Scammers can target you online, by phone or by email. Know what to look for so you can spot a scam and protect yourself.
Credit card scams
Scammers don't need your credit card to use it. They only need your card details.
Signs of a credit card scam:
- You notice unusual purchases on your credit card statement.
Check your credit card statements regularly, especially if your card is lost or stolen. If you see something you don't recognise, report it to your bank.