Scammers often use different tactics to try to win your trust such as impersonating someone or an organisation you might know to try and convince you of their story. Find out more about how an impersonation scam works and how to stay safe now.
HOW DOES AN IMPERSONATION SCAM WORK
Online scams are sophisticated messages that can make it difficult to determine what is real and what is fake.
Scammers often use different tactics to try to win your trust such as impersonating someone or an organisation you might know to try and convince you of their story.
Scammers often use social media and email accounts that look like they belong to your friends or relatives to send out messages trying to lure in. They might even impersonate a government official.
They’re trying to trick people into sending money to them and they can look convincing. They might say they need money for insurance, a family emergency, taxes or some kind of administration fee but the scammers will keep any money that’s sent to them. The prizes and grants aren’t real and it’s important that you don’t engage with them.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST IMPERSONATION SCAMS
If you get a message from someone you don’t know:
- Ignore them. Don’t respond to someone you don’t know with a request you didn’t initiate
- Block them. Take advantage of the block feature and block them on every messaging app and website they’ve contacted you on. Report their profile if you can using the platform’s safety centres.
- Be consistent. Don’t be surprised if a scammer creates a new account to try to connect with you again, you’ll need to block and report these accounts as well.
If you got a message from someone you know:
- Contact the person and let them know you think their account is being impersonated. You won’t be able to contact them through the account that’s been taken over so you’ll need another way to get a hold of them like via the phone.
- Advise them to reset their password. For example, if this has happened on Facebook, they’ll need to follow these instructions.
- Ask them to consider sharing a warning from the account. Once they’ve got control of the account back they can share a post or message to explain that a scammer had control of their account for a time and to ignore any messages they sent that asked for money or private information like bank accounts.
If your account’s been taken over:
- Take back your account as soon as you can. The first step in taking back an account is to have the password reset. For example, if this has happened on Facebook, you’ll need to follow these instructions.
- Adding extra security to your account to stop it happening again. Many online accounts can be secured with two step verification. This can include using an authentication app or adding a phone number that’ll be sent a unique code each time a new device logs into their account.
- Share a warning from the account. Once you’ve got control of the account back you can share a post or message to explain that a scammer had control of the account for a time and to ignore any messages that asked for money or private information like bank accounts.
HOW TO RECOVER LOST MONEY OR DATA IN AN IMPERSONATION SCAM
If money has been paid or private information has been shared:
- Dispute the payment. If you’ve sent money using your credit card you can speak to your bank about applying for a charge back. This is an attempt by the bank to reverse the transaction. Not all charge back requests are successful so it’s worthwhile discussing this option with your bank first.
- Follow the money. If you sent money using a gift card our advice is to consider reporting this to the retailer they were purchased from as they may be able to help. If you’ve sent money using a money transfer service like Bitcoin, the payment is most likely untraceable and you may not be able to get your money back.
- Report it to the bank. If you’ve shared bank account numbers, credit cards or any other information that relates to your account our advice is to report the incident to your bank immediately. It’s important that you report the situation to them in full so that the bank can decide on the security process to follow.
- Protect your information. If you’ve sent the scammer with any sensitive personal information, this Identity Theft Checklist is a helpful guide on what could happen with your information. If you believe you may have been exposed to identity theft, we suggest you contact iDCare as they provide free help and support.
If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report at netsafe.org.nz/report
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282