Be vigilant, not fearful this Fraud Awareness Week

Owen Loeffellechner
Chief Safety & Security Officer
3 MIN

Education is the best weapon in the fight against fraud. That’s why BNZ has put its support behind Fraud Awareness Week (17-23 November 2019). Owen Loeffellechner, Chief Safety & Security Officer shares his thoughts on how to stay safer online.

Fraud is becoming more sophisticated, systematic and insidious. Despite this, my message is always the same: be vigilant, not fearful. The familiar theme from last year’s Fraud Awareness Week, ‘Stop and think, is this for real?’ is still essential, relevant, and will likely stand the test of time. 

Fraud can range from tailored scams that involve significant social engineering, to en masse waves of investment or technical support scams. It tends to be opportunistic – targeting our empathy for others, our fears and loneliness, as well as our familiarity with frequently visited sites – and crosses gender, age, and ethnic lines.

We’re all vulnerable. According to data provided by Research New Zealand, 72% of New Zealanders have been the target of a scam*.

How to help spot a scam

First and foremost, make sure you take the time to think it through. Always scrutinise the authenticity of financial opportunities; request supporting documentation and certify that documentation.

You should challenge unexpected callers who alert you to critical computer problems or weak internet connections, question why they’re pressuring you to download remote access software. Trust your instincts. 

For businesses, it’s about robust internal processes and, above all, following established procedures. Verifying requests to change bank account details directly with your suppliers, with a call or in person, not via email.

If you’re ever in the situation at work where your Chief Executive asks you to send money overseas – verify those instructions with a phone call, or in person, not via email. Take the time to think it through. Validate the sender through trusted sources.

For everyone, also factor in what you share on social media and other public platforms. Asking yourself if the information you’re disclosing could potentially be used for malicious purposes. If the answer is yes, or even maybe, it’s about thinking carefully before posting it.

How to report one 

New Zealanders lost $33 million to scammers last year alone, according to data provided by Netsafe.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because the sad fact is that more than half of New Zealanders who fall victim to fraud never come forward to report the crime to police (source: research commissioned by BNZ and my2cents). Worse, 15% who lose money to scams never tell anyone at all^. They suffer in silence.

Learning to recognise a scam is one crucial component in the fight against fraud – giving people enough confidence to come forward and report fraud is another. We need to make people feel safe to tell someone if something goes wrong.

Sharing experiences is crucial to raising awareness, protecting the people you care about and ultimately, preventing the offenders from causing more harm.

If you have received an email that looks like it’s from BNZ but you are unsure, please let us know by sending us an email. If you have concerns about your accounts or would like to report suspicious activity or emails that relate to your online banking or suspect you have responded to a phishing email, call our Customer Solutions Advisors immediately on 0800 275 269 or +64 4 494 9098 from overseas (international toll charges apply).

References to third party websites are provided for your convenience only. BNZ accepts no responsibility for the availability or content of such websites.

The information in this article is provided for general purposes only, and is a summary based on selective information which may not be complete for your purpose.  To the extent that any information or recommendations in this article constitute financial advice, they do not take into account your financial situation or goals and is not intended as personalised financial advice. While BNZ has made every effort to ensure that the information provided is accurate, you should not rely on this information to make any financial decision without first having sought advice specific to your circumstances from an authorised financial adviser. Neither BNZ nor any person involved in this article accepts any liability for any loss or damage whatsoever which may directly or indirectly result from any advice, opinion, information, representation or omission, whether negligent or otherwise, contained in this article.

*Sourced from Research New Zealand

^ The research was conducted with my2cents (Camorra Research), a financial services online panel. The sample of n = 800 is weighted to be nationally representative in terms of age, gender and region.

Owen Loeffellechner
Chief Safety & Security Officer
As Chief Safety & Security Officer, Owen’s primary role at BNZ is protecting customers and staff from harm. He provides leadership, strategic, operational and tactical capability for business security and financial crime risks. He’s also a board member for Crimestoppers, an independent charity that provides an anonymous way for people to pass on information.