Relocating to the Netherlands to live and work may well have been a dream for you, giving you the opportunity to expand your horizons and develop your career.
However, living and working in a foreign country often comes with different challenges and obstacles. One such issue that many face is that scammers look to take advantage of expats that have relocated to the Netherlands, so it’s important that you are aware of what is involved in these scams and how you can avoid them.
Indeed, according to a report by NL Times, the Fraud Helpdesk revealed the total number of telephone scams increased by 18% in 2022. The victims, many of them English speakers, were scammed into transferring money 136 times, amounting to a total loss of more than €1 million.
So, read on to find out what the scams involve, how to spot them, and what you can do to protect yourself as an expat living in the Netherlands.
Fraudsters are quite often targeting English-speaking expats with banking scams
The most common scam targeting English-speaking expats in the Netherlands involves scammers posing as representatives from a bank during phone calls.
As many internationals and expats living in the country aren’t fully familiar with Dutch systems, they can be particularly vulnerable to scams like these and are more likely than nationals to give their bank details to scammers or agree to transfer money over the phone.
In recent years, there have also been multiple investment scams that have targeted people living across Europe, including the Netherlands. These fake investment schemes try to convince victims to repeatedly transfer funds to a fake investment portal promising huge returns on their investments.
Also, scammers are targeting recently relocated expats regarding internet, gas, and electricity bills, as well as the tax office (Belastingdienst). Scammers may approach expats offering them better prices than the more popular providers but then not actually provide them with the deal proposed.
How you can spot potential scams and protect yourself
Scammers will make use of an English language tape while calling you, with them posing as representatives from a bank. They will try and encourage you to share bank details or agree to transfer money over the phone.
It’s important that you never give financial details, like card numbers or passwords, over the phone. If you think they aren’t a genuine caller, hang up and call your bank to check the authenticity.
You may receive phishing messages via email, SMS, WhatsApp, or other forms of electronic communication.
Scammers will “fish” for confidential information, including bank details and personal data, like passwords, in an attempt to gain access to your banking accounts. This could include asking for a copy of your bank card, driving licence, or passport, or your PIN code for your bank or credit card.
Additionally, you could be tricked into installing malicious apps or software on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Never click on any links you don’t trust and never fill in any financial information from links such as these. If you think it might not be genuine, contact the relevant financial organisation.
With more and more people using the internet every single day, scammers are using this to their advantage by setting up legitimate-looking investment sites. Often, they are promoted on social media platforms like YouTube or Facebook.
Usually, the message displayed on these platforms will make it seem like the investments are a bulletproof way of generating an income or positive return. Typically, these advertisements will state that the service is utilised by famous people and celebrities and will pressure you into making a deposit, claiming it’s a time-limited and unique offer.
So, if you see an investment offer being promoted on social media, be wary that all might not be as it seems. Of course, if you are interested in increasing your investment portfolio, speaking with a financial planner could be more beneficial to you than taking up an “offer” online. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
This type of scam is becoming increasingly popular with fraudsters that are targeting expats living in the Netherlands. It involves the scammer impersonating a genuine company or organisation.
For example, the fraudster copies the company’s website, phone number, or email address and poses as a named representative from said company.
If you believe the person isn’t telling the truth, check with the named company by calling their registered phone number.
What you can do if you think you’ve been scammed
If you fear that you have been scammed, there is plenty you can do.
Your first port of call could be to contact the Fraud Helpdesk. They are the Dutch national anti-fraud hotline and will refer you to the proper authorities.
Similarly, if you are concerned that you may have had your identity stolen, get in touch with the Dutch identity fraud helpdesk, known as the Central Identity Fraud Reporting Center. They will register reports of identity fraud and provide advice and support.
If you have received a suspicious phone call, email or website promotion and aren’t sure that it’s genuine, search for the organisation or company online and contact them to check.
Additionally, it is important to report any phishing attempts and financial and tax fraud to your bank and Tax and Customs Administration respectively.
Get in touch
If you’re an expat in Europe and you’d benefit from comprehensive and intelligent advice about your wealth, speak to us.
We will work with you to develop a structured and flexible financial plan to help you navigate the different financial environments while living abroad. Please contact us at [email protected] and we’d be happy to help.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.