Current Date:May 22, 2022

Kiwis losing up to $500 million each year in scams, Westpac fraud survey tells

How to avoid getting scammed.

One in three Kiwis have fallen prey to scammers and – because most scams go unreported – we may be losing up to $500 million each year to cybercrime, a Westpac survey has found.
The survey of 1003 adults found 90 per cent of them were concerned about being scammed or defrauded and one in three had been victims.
Scams can run through email, phone calls, text, mail, and door knocks.
Netsafe boss Martin Cocker has said there are a high volume of scams at the moment in New Zealand.
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Westpac NZ’s head of financial crime and security, Tiffany Ryan said New Zealanders’ unease was warranted given the growing sophistication of scammers and their activities, and numbers of attempted fraud.
In the past year alone Westpac’s financial crime team has prevented more than $22 million of fraud from occurring, Ryan said.
“We have seen the numbers of attempted fraud increase on last year but due to protections in place and increased surveillance the amount being lost to fraud is decreasing. Card fraud is the biggest issue,” Ryan said.
“Most scams go unreported but there are industry estimates that New Zealanders may be losing up to $500 million each year to cybercrime and scams run through email, phone calls, text, mail, and door knocks.”
The survey found one in three of its respondents said they had been a victim of online scams.
In August, a Westpac customer was alerted to an attempt to take more than $14,000 out of her account. The bank replaced 30,000 customer bank cards after a global security breach at international ticket sales company Ticketmaster.
In March, a retired Auckland man John Calkin was scammed out of almost $30,000 by someone who purported to be a Spark technician.
He knew the 76-year-old’s name, his address, and the fact that he had upgraded his Spark connection. Calkin said that was enough to take the edge off his vigilance.
‘Sextortion’ scams have also become common online where people are threatened their images may be leaked if they are not paid a ransom.
The scam uses publicly leaked information from data breaches to make people think an attacker has access to their computer or device.
Other findings in the survey show that people were most worried for the older generation.
“These scammers know how to pressure vulnerable people into quickly giving away confidential details such as PIN numbers, or into transferring money out of their accounts,” added Ryan.
“Our advice is for customers to be extremely vigilant. They should monitor their bank statements regularly, as well as keep the bank notified of contact details changes, overseas trips or intended large purchases,” Ryan said.
Ryan said the bank would refund the amount so long as the customer had not breached their account terms and conditions.
When detected, payments are blocked, access immediately suspended, and customers alerted.
Ryan said customers could also protect themselves by installing up-to-date anti-virus software on their computer, not clicking on links or responding to texts or emails, and being careful not to authorise payments unless they are absolutely sure of the recipient.
– Monitor your bank statements regularly.
– Be suspicious of callers purporting to be from your bank, a utility company (Spark, Vodafone etc), or a government agency such as the police or Inland Revenue, asking for your PIN number or your username or passwords for internet or telephone banking.
– Use privacy settings to limit who can see your information on social network sites – as these can be used to impersonate you or steal your identity.
– If you think you may have been targeted or fallen victim to a fraud or scam, contact your bank as soon as possible.
– Give out your PIN number.
– Give out your personal information.
– Respond to or click on a suspicious email or link.
– Give out your bank account details