More New Zealanders are falling victim to scams than ever, according to new research from Bank of New Zealand (BNZ).
In the last year, four in five people have been targeted by a scam and more than a quarter have fallen victim to one, up seven percent on the year prior. Businesses are also feeling the brunt with 47 per cent of them falling victim in the last year, up from 21 per cent the year prior.
The research comes as the bank launches its annual Scam Savvy Week to raise awareness, help people know what to look for to spot scams, and stay safer online.
BNZ Head of Financial Crime, Ashley Kai Fong, says “Scams are rising, year-on-year, and as they climb, so does the toll on New Zealanders and the trail of destruction left in the wake.
“Scams don’t just damage our finances. They cause hurt, shame, and embarrassment to their victims and they erode trust and confidence in brands, businesses, and organisations.
“The best defence against scams is you. If you know what to look for and can recognise the signs of a scam, you’re less likely to fall victim. This Scam Savvy Week, we’re urging people to take a look at the tools and refresh themselves so they can be better protected,” says Kai Fong.
Kai Fong is also asking people to report when they’ve been targeted by a scam or fallen victim to one.
“So many of us are suffering in silence with only half of victims reporting it, and it’s crucial there’s more awareness. If you’ve been targeted by one, report it to CERT NZ. If you think you may have lost money to one or someone might have accessed your online banking, call your bank immediately,” says Kai Fong.
Scam Savvy week runs from Monday 19 to Friday 23 September and is available online at www.getscamsavvy.co.nz.
Scammers swarming the country with SMS scams
SMS scams impersonate businesses, urging urgent action and then steal online banking details, credit card details, or other sensitive information, and Kiwis are getting bombarded by them.
“We’re always seeing scammers change their tactics,” says Kai Fong. “25 per cent of all victims report clicking on a link in an email or text now, and with text messages being virtually free to send overseas, the country is getting inundated with them.
“It could be almost anything – a message pretending to be from a bank asking you to urgently confirm a transaction or from a courier company asking you to urgently pay a release fee. The link in the text messages look almost legitimate so it’s easy for someone in a hurry to tap through.
“But the website is fake. Everything you enter is immediately sent to the scammers and they use the details to log into your real online banking and take your money or run up charges on your debit or credit card,” says Kai Fong.
Businesses bearing the brunt of the scam wave
BNZ’s research shows businesses are a lucrative target for scammers.
“Businesses get targeted by many of the same scams consumers do, but with one notable difference – the invoice scam,” says Kai Fong.
In an invoice scam, a business’ system is compromised and the bank account number on invoices is changed to one a scammer owns so payments meant for the business go to the scammer instead.
“In a new development, we’ve also seen scammers posing as employees changing the bank account where their wages are paid. These scams are notoriously difficult to spot and are the leading scam by value of losses,” says Kai Fong.
Bigger businesses tend to be better prepared, with SMEs of six or more employees saying they have more protections in place and do training with their staff compared to smaller businesses.
Kai Fong says while it can be hard for smaller businesses to resource scam protection, there are other things they can do.
“Make sure everyone in your businesses knows to never tap or click links in emails and text messages from unknown senders, keep your systems and antivirus up to date and use long, strong and unique passwords or passphrases.
“Chasing your overdue accounts is also vital. It’s better for your business to have the cash coming in, but it also means you’ll uncover an invoice scam more quickly and have more of a chance to recover lost money,” says Kai Fong.
Get Scam Savvy
BNZ wants all New Zealanders to have access to simple, accessible scam education, so BNZ Branches and Partners Centres will be key hubs during Scam Savvy Week, with BNZ people out in our communities running sessions.
Scam Savvy tools are available online in four languages – English, Te Reo Māori, Samoan and Tongan, and there are presentations for community groups to use to help their members, which are available in English, Te Reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi and Punjabi.
There are also videos with greater accessibility for low vision and low hearing communities.
These are available at www.getscamsavvy.co.nz.
Golden Rules of Scams
- Never open links asking you to log into your banking in text messages or emails
- Never open attachments from unknown senders
- Always check the sender of an email to make sure the address is right, especially if the email seems a bit odd
- If it looks 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’s reported the better chance of recovering money
- Trust your gut – if it feels wrong, it probably is
Scam Savvy Research:
Key findings from BNZ’s research:
- The top five scams those surveyed have fallen victim to are:
- Scammed when buying, selling or donating goods or services online 15%
- Tech scam phone calls 13%
- Scams masquerading as government services or departments 11%
- Fake lottery, prize or grant scam 7%
- Friend or relative imposter scam 5%
- Nearly all those scammed (87%) are affected in some way after being scammed:
- Made me double check my emails/ text messages 66%
- Affected my trust 39%
- Affected my online confidence 39%
- Affected my confidence 21%
- People are more likely to think they would report a scam than the reality:
- 80% of people said they would report it, but only half (54%) do.
- Not knowing where to report a scam is the main reason for not reporting it (39%)
- The top scams SMEs surveyed say their business has been targeted are:
- Call scam – 28%
- Phishing scam –16%
- Invoice scam – 12%
- CEO scam – 9%
- Ransomware – 9%
- Two in five SMEs (41%) surveyed feel their business is prepared to manage a scam or cyber event. 16% feel ill prepared with a third (37%) neutral on the matter.
- SMEs with 6 or more FTEs feel more prepared to manage a scam or cyber event (52% compared to 41% total) and those who say scam/cyber education training is a priority for their business (68% compared to 41% total)
- Nearly a third (31%) of SMEs surveyed stated scam/cyber education training for all your employees is a key priority for their business. 53% it was not a priority with the remainder don’t know/other