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Kiwis losing $24.7mil to scam calls every year

14 Nov 18

The NZ Telecommunications Forum (TCF) is shining the spotlight on scam calling in New Zealand, encouraging consumers to Stop and think. Is this for real?

The campaign is running in conjunction with International Fraud Awareness Week, a global effort to minimise the impact of fraud through awareness and education.

There are several types of phone scams known to be active in New Zealand, and scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach, often having access to personal information obtained through third-party sources.

They may even use advanced systems to make it appear as though they are calling from a genuine New Zealand phone number, known as caller ID spoofing.

Wangiri calls have been on the rise in 2018.

These are typically missed calls from an overseas number, with the scammer hanging up after one ring or less.

Once the number is called back by the victim, the call is then charged at premium rates.

Technical support scammers tell their victims there is a problem with their computer or internet service, and ask them to download software that gives them remote access in order to pretend to fix the problem.

In reality, when scammers access a victim’s computer, they use the opportunity to capture bank details, passwords, and other personal information in order to commit fraud.

To deal with these issues, the TCF has formalised a range of processes for the telco industry to deal with instances of scam callers in the form of a Scam Calling Prevention Code.

Processes outlined in the code help the industry react more quickly to any incidence of phone scams reported by the public, to block calls from numbers used by confirmed scammers.

The Code also allows for data sharing with other agencies such as NetSafe, CERT NZ and the New Zealand Police.

“We rely on members of the public to alert their telecommunications service provider to any suspicious calls so that they can investigate and take action,” says TCF CEO Geoff Thorn.

“If you receive a suspected scam call, write down the details and report it to your telco immediately."

New Zealanders fall victim to scams every day.

Data from NetSafe shows that between January and September 2018 almost 8,000 New Zealanders reported a scam to the organisation, with more than $24.7 million lost to scammers.

The losses are almost five times higher compared to the same period last year, from reported losses alone.

“Consumers need to proceed with caution when receiving calls asking for personal or financial information, or when calling back a missed call from an unknown overseas number. The best advice we can offer consumers is before you act: Stop and think. Is this for real?” says Thorn.

The NZ Telecommunications Forum (TCF) was established in 2002 and plays a vital role in the telecommunications industry in New Zealand, collaboratively developing key industry standards and codes of practice that underpin the country’s digital economy. 

The organisation aims to actively foster cooperation among the telecommunications industry’s participants, to enable the efficient provision of regulated and non-regulated telecommunications services.

TCF Members include 2degrees, AWACS, Chorus, DTS, Enable Networks, Kordia, Northpower Fibre, NOW, Spark, Symbio Networks, Trustpower, Ultrafast Fibre, UnisonFibre, Vector Communications, Vocus Communications, and Vodafone. 

Huawei is a General Associate member.