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It's Fraud Awareness Week: How you can steer clear of scams and fraud

By Sara Barker, Fri 19 Nov 2021

Netsafe has reported an 86% rise in identity fraud and a 37% increase in investment fraud during the last financial year, prompting an urgent plea for all New Zealanders to take a moment to think about what information they are sharing online.

This week marks Fraud Awareness Week, which aims to educate people on the dangers of fraud and what to do if they - or someone they know - has been affected by it.

According to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), scammers will commonly resort to tactics including social engineering (pretending to be other businesses or people), or asking people to conduct risky actions that could affect their reputations.

According to the New Zealand Police Cybercrime Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Dalziel, New Zealanders inherently trust people, but that trait can make us an easy target for fraudsters.

“It is important that people think about how much personal information they share online and who they are sharing it with. If you control the amount of information you release, you can reduce the chance of someone stealing your identity.”

Netsafe’s Martin Cocker adds, “People contacting you out of the blue asking to verify account details, or telling you that there is a problem with your phone or internet services are possible signs of potential fraud. When in doubt about the identity of someone saying they are from a particular business and asking for your information, it’s a good idea to hang up and call the business back directly.”

CERT NZ has also noted an uptick in technical support scam calls. Furthermore, online scams and fraud have resulted in losses of more than $4.5 million. CERT NZ director Rob Pope says people need to keep their personal information safe. It’s important to use long-strong passwords, and two-factor authentication if possible.

Often, people who have been affected by fraud feel embarrassed or ashamed to speak about their experiences. However, the best possible action is to report these incidents to protect themselves and other people from falling victim to the same scams.

MBIE’s Consumer Protection national manager Simon Gallagher explains, “While it is natural to feel some hurt or shame in falling prey to online scammers, it’s important to remember that these are sophisticated systems designed to build your trust. 

“By working together and reporting scams, people can help others to avoid being scammed.”

Scams can be reported to Netsafe, CERT NZ, NZ Police, the Department of Internal Affairs and individual telecommunication agencies.

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