When I saw our credit card had gone over its limit, I immediately thought, what the heck has my husband bought! And, oh no I’ll be charged interest on that extra few hundred dollars.

Then I looked closer. And realised. We’d been scammed. Over TEN GRAND. Did I click on a link? Make a dodgy online purchase? Not cover my pin at an ATM?

This doesn’t happen to people like us. We aren’t in the ‘vulnerable demographic’, we don’t give our card details to people, we’re tech savvy. I have spent loads of time teaching my older parents the ‘watchouts’:

  • don’t click on links to banks/Internet Banking, always go straight to the website from your browser
  • you’re not getting an IRD refund (login direct to IRD if you want to check)
  • you do not need to pay for your parcel (do you even have a parcel?) to be redirected
  • you don’t owe road tolls from LTNZ (they don’t exist anymore!)
  • you are never the long lost relative of a billionaire (at least not the only surviving one and a benefactor)
  • chances are your computer has not been hacked – do not be blackmailed
  • look out for spelling errors, incorrect company names, weird email addresses (taxrefund007@gmail.com is not legit)
  • hang up, delete. Take your time with transactions
  • if in doubt, contact the company directly (don’t use the number or link on the email/text – use your browser for the correct website and phone number).

Turns out it can happen to anyone. We’re busy right? We want our parcel. We may have missed a toll road (unlikely), we might be due a tax refund.

Suddenly we saw multiple stories about how people are scammed and never see their money again. It wasn’t even our money, it was credit, that we had to pay back!

The bank cancelled our card and sent a new one, the fraud team would investigate. Then comes the wait. The banks are slammed with fraud investigations currently, so communication was low. After about a week some transactions disappeared, then others appeared (?!), it was heart-breaking to not be able to control it.

It took some time, but we were lucky in the end and were not left out of pocket, but our stress levels stayed high. Our lesson was learnt.

After reporting to certNZ, changing all our passwords and removing saved credit card details from websites, I now feel much more in control and safe.

In hindsight it’s easy to say but please stop and think with every transaction, it’s not worth the risk.