Be alert for sophisticated scams

By Anne-Marie McDonald -
3 comments
Trevor Dickason with one of the scam text messages he received. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO
Trevor Dickason with one of the scam text messages he received. PHOTO/STUART MUNRO

When Whanganui resident Trevor Dickason received a text from Westpac Bank to tell him he'd received "an alert from customer support", he was immediately suspicious.

For a start, Mr Dickason and his wife don't bank with Westpac.

Mr Dickason wanted to share his story publicly to warn others, especially elderly people, to be alert for scams.

"This one seemed like quite a sophisticated scam, and I'm sure some people could easily be fooled by it."

On September 27 Mr Dickason received two very similar text messages purporting to be from BNZ and Westpac banks. He was puzzled by the BNZ one - he and his wife bank with BNZ, but had never received a text from the bank before.

Both text messages asked Mr Dickason to visit a website and follow the instructions there.

"Just out of curiosity I went to the Westpac one. It told me that my account had been blocked and that I had to put in my user name and password."

"It looked genuine - it had the Westpac banner up the top of the website and everything," he said.

The scam site has since been shut down.

Mr Dickason said he knew a few other people who had received the same text messages. Some were not sure if it was a scam or not.

"I was very wary of it and I wasn't scammed, but I'm there would be other people who would think these were genuine messages from the bank."

Both BNZ and Westpac banks - along with most other banks - have information on their websites about keeping yourself safe from scammers.

If you are unsure about whether an email or text message is from a bank, you should treat it as suspicious and contact your bank.

Westpac's information includes checking that the site is the official Westpac - in the web address for log-on you should see a locked padlock symbol. Clicking on this symbol can take you to the site's security system, which is "digitally signed" by either Entrust or Verisign.

Banks will never ask you for your password.

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