More New Zealanders are falling victim to scams than ever, according to new research from the Bank of New Zealand (BNZ).
In the past year, four out of five people have been the target of a scam and more than a quarter have been victims, a seven per cent increase from the previous year. Companies are also feeling the consequences, with 47% of them having been victims in the last year, compared to 21% the previous year.
The research comes as the bank launches its annual report Scam Week to raise awareness, help people know what to look for to spot scams and stay safe online.
Ashley Kai Fong, head of financial crime at BNZ, said: “The scams are increasing year on year, and as they increase so do New Zealanders’ tolls and the trail of destruction left in the wake.
“Scams don’t just damage our finances. They cause pain, shame and embarrassment to their victims and they erode trust in brands, companies and organisations.
“The best defense against scams is you. If you know what to look for and can recognize the signs of a scam, you are less likely to fall victim. This Scam Savvy Week, we urge people to take a look at the tools and cool off to be better protected,” says Kai Fong.
Kai Fong also asks people to report when they have been targeted by or have been the victim of a scam.
“So many of us are suffering in silence, with only half of victims reporting it, and more awareness is crucial. If you have been targeted, report it to CERT NZ. If you think you may have lost money or someone has accessed your online banking services, call your bank immediately,” says Kai Fong.
Scam Savvy Week runs from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd September and is available online at www.getscamsavvy.co.nz.
Scammers are invading the country with SMS scams
SMS scams pose as businesses, urging urgent action, then steal online banking details, credit card details or other sensitive information, and Kiwis are bombarded with them.
“We always see scammers changing tactics,” says Kai Fong. “25% of all victims say they have clicked on a link in an email or text now, and with text messages being virtually free to send overseas, the country is inundated with them.
“It could be almost anything – a message claiming to be from a bank asking you to urgently confirm a transaction or from a courier company asking you to pay a release fee urgently. The link in the text messages looks almost legit, so it’s easy for someone in a hurry to skim through it.
“But the website is fake. Everything you enter is immediately sent to the crooks and they use the details to connect to your real online bank and take your money or charge a fee to your debit or credit card,” says Kai Fong.
The companies most affected by the wave of scams
BNZ research shows that companies are a lucrative target for scammers.
“Businesses are targeted by many of the same scams as consumers, but with one notable difference: the invoice scam,” says Kai Fong.
In an invoice scam, a company’s system is compromised and the bank account number on invoices is changed to that of a scammer, so that payments meant for the company go to the scammer instead. .
“In a new development, we have also seen scammers posing as employees changing the bank account their salary is paid into. These scams are notoriously hard to spot and are the top scams in terms of loss value,” says Kai Fong.
Larger companies tend to be better prepared, with SMEs with six or more employees saying they have more protections in place and undergo training with their staff compared to smaller companies.
Kai Fong says that while it can be difficult for small businesses to protect themselves against scams, there are other things they can do.
“Make sure everyone in your company knows never to touch or click on links in emails and text messages from unknown senders, keep your systems and anti-virus up to date, and use passwords. long, strong and unique passwords or passphrases.
“The pursuit of your delinquent accounts is also vital. It’s better for your business that the money comes in, but it also means you’ll discover a fraudulent invoice faster and have a better chance of recovering lost money,” says Kai Fong.
Master the scams
BNZ wants all New Zealanders to have access to easy and accessible scam training, so BNZ branches and partner centers will be key hubs during Scam Savvy Week, with BNZ people in our communities who organize sessions.
Scam Savvy tools are available online in four languages - English, Te Reo Maori, Samoan and Tongan, and there are presentations that community groups can use to help their members, which are available in English, Te Reo Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi and Punjabi.
There are also videos with greater accessibility for visually and hearing impaired communities.
These are available at www.getscamsavvy.co.nz.
Golden rules of scams
- Never open links in text messages or emails
- Never open attachments from unknown senders
- Always check the sender of an email to make sure the address is correct, especially if the email seems a little strange
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Urgency is a flag – scammers will try to rush you
- Contact your bank as soon as possible if you think you’ve been scammed. The sooner it is reported, the better the chances of getting the money back
- Trust your instincts – if you’re feeling bad, you probably are
Savvy scam research:
Key findings from BNZ research:
- The top five scams respondents experienced were:
- Scammed when buying, selling or donating goods or services online 15%
- Scam phone calls to technology 13%
- Scams posing as government departments or departments 11%
- Lottery, prize or grant scam 7%
- Fraud by an impostor friend or relative 5%
- Almost all scammed people (87%) are affected in some way after being scammed:
- Made me recheck my emails/text messages 66%
- Affected my confidence 39%
- Affected my online confidence 39%
- Affected my confidence 21%
- People are more likely to think they would report a scam than they are:
- 80% of people said they would report it, but only half (54%) do.
- Not knowing where to report a scam is the top reason for not reporting it (39%)
- The top scams that SMBs surveyed say their business has been targeted are:
- Fraudulent call – 28%
- Phishing Scam -16%
- Invoice scam – 12%
- CEO Scam – 9%
- Ransomware – 9%
- Two in five (41%) SMBs surveyed believe their business is ready to handle a scam or cyber event. 16% feel unprepared with a third (37%) neutral on the matter.
- SMBs with 6 FTEs or more feel better prepared to handle a scam or cyber event (52% vs. 41% overall) and those who say scam training/cybereducation is a priority for their business (68% vs. 41% in total)
- Nearly a third (31%) of SMBs surveyed said that scam training/cybereducation for all your employees is a key priority for their business. 53% it was not a priority, the rest don’t know/other
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