Fraud Awareness Week

Fraud Awareness Week kicked off yesterday Sunday 13 November. It is an international initiative each November aimed at educating people on common forms of fraud and on ways of combating them. In New Zealand it’s coordinated by the Consumer Protection team at the Ministry of Business, Education and Employment, in cooperation with an Interagency Fraud Working Group.

Fraud costs the world $3.7 trillion each year. That is a staggering amount. When you see figures like this, it is easy to think of fraud as only something that affects large organisations. This is not the case. Real people suffer due to the actions of fraudsters from every level of life and every level of society. Within this diversity of victims, older people may be particularly targeted. Scams and frauds are a major threat to older people’s financial security and overall health and wellbeing. Personal circumstances such as isolation, cognitive impairment, bereavement and financial pressures may cause older people to become especially at risk at becoming a victim of this type of crime.

What to look out for

The old saying “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is,” certainly applies to many different types of scams out there today. Glossy holiday prize draw scams, the ‘you’ve won x amount of money’ scams, plus many more fall under this category.

Scammers and fraudsters may even come to the front door. When people you do not know come to your home ask to see their identification. This will not offend anyone; it is best to be safe than sorry. Never invite them inside unless their ID satisfies you. If something doesn’t seem right, ask them to come back later. Get advice immediately. Do not give strangers personal information.

Card Fraud

There is an increasing number of occurrences of online scamming and identity theft. As more and more older people are coming online, there are certain things that you will need to look out for to protect your details. The website for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment NZ Consumer Protection has a vast amount of important information on this form of fraudulent activity.

A key thing to remember is that your bank or the IRD will never ask you (over the phone or in an email) for an open cheque, bank account PIN, credit card, password or other bank details. Keep these to yourself!

Precautions to keep yourself safe

  • Store personal information safely, this includes ID documents, ID numbers, passports, pay slips, bank cards and any printed documents with personal information.
  • Discard information securely –expired ID cards, unused bank cards, old account statements should be shredded before being disposed of.
  • Browse with caution – do not click on links in emails and texts especially if they claim to be from your bank. Access the Banks website directly.
  • Report suspicious activity to your Bank and other relevant authorities.

Talking to trusted family and friends is a good place to start if you are worried you may be getting scammed. Age concern is a great service that has a wide range of information and contacts that can be useful in this situation. Also, you can get legal advice if you feel that is required.

Do not feel embarrassed if you do get caught out. These guys are professionals at what they do and you can almost guarantee you will not be the first person they have managed to scam. Best thing to do is alert your local authorities and bank so that it reduces the chance that it could happen to others.

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.