More Kiwis falling victim to scams – BNZ

Research also reveals the top scams for Kiwis and businesses

More Kiwis falling victim to scams – BNZ

More Kiwis are falling victim to scams than ever, new research from Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) has revealed.

Over the past year, four in five people have been targeted by a scam and more than a quarter have fallen victim to one, up 7% on the previous year. Businesses are also feeling the pain, with 47% of them falling victim in the last year, up from 21% the prior year.

Read more: ANZ urges Kiwis to stay vigilant against new phishing scams

The research comes as the bank launches its annual Scam Savvy Week, which runs from Sept. 19 to Sept. 23, to inform people on how to spot scams and stay safer online.

“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,” said Ashley Kai Fong, BNZ head of financial crime. “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.”

Many Kiwis are bombarded by SMS scams that aim to steal online banking details, credit card details, or other sensitive information.

Read next: Westpac sounds alarm over Whatsapp scam

“We’re always seeing scammers change their tactics,” Kai Fong said. “Twenty-five 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,” Kai Fong said. “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.”

The top five scams those surveyed have fallen victim to include scams when buying, selling, or donating goods or services online (15%), tech scam phone calls (13%), scams pretending to be government services or departments (11%), fake lottery, prize or grant scams (7%), and friend or relative imposter scams (5%).

Scammers also find businesses a lucrative target, the BNZ research showed.

“Businesses get targeted by many of the same scams consumers do, but with one notable difference – the invoice scam,” Kai Fong said.

In an invoice scam, a business’ system is compromised and the bank account number on invoices is changed to the one owned by a scammer, so they can receive the payments meant for the business.

“In a new development, we’ve also seen scammers posing as employees changing the bank account where their wages are paid,” Kai Fong said. “These scams are notoriously difficult to spot and are the leading scam by value of losses.”

The BNZ research revealed the top scams those surveyed fell victim to. These include call scams (28%), phishing scams (16%), invoice scams (12%), CEO scams (9%), and ransomware (9%).

Kai Fong said “you” are the best defence against scams.

“If you know what to look for and can recognise the signs of a scam, you’re less likely to fall victim,” he said. “This Scam Savvy Week, we’re urging people to take a look at the tools and refresh themselves so they can be better protected.”

Kai Fong is also urging people to report when they’ve been targeted or fallen victim to a scam.

“If you’ve been targeted by one, report it to CERT NZ,” he said. “If you think you may have lost money to one or someone might have accessed your online banking, call your bank immediately.”