13 Nov 2018

New Zealanders losing millions to scammers, new data shows

7:56 am on 13 November 2018

New Zealanders are on track to lose about $70 million this year to scammers according to provisional data from banks across the country.

Hacker working on hacking some information. Cyber scam. 13 November 2018

New Zealanders are being warned to be aware of cyber scams. Photo: 123rf.com

Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden said that's a 15 percent increase from last year.

Ms Sladden said scammers have become more sophisticated as banking technology has changed.

"I think as technology changes, we continue the way in which we do business, the way in which we communicate with each other, and with that new technology it creates new risks and loopholes, and the scammers are very good at exploiting those," she said.

Ms Sladden said the $70m figure is just the tip of the iceberg and the true scale of the losses could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Data from Netsafe shows almost 8000 New Zealanders reported a scam between January and September this year, with almost $25m lost.

National manager of the Police Financial Crime group, Detective Superintendent Iain Chapman, said it can be difficult catching scammers who are overseas.

"The reality is that despite the combined efforts of all agencies involved in financial crime in New Zealand, there are significant challenges in identifying and prosecuting overseas offenders involved in online scams. This is further made worse by the fact that international fund transfers can take a matter of minutes," he said.

The Banking Ombudsman, Netsafe, and police have warned that the best way to avoid being scammed is to never click on a link in an unexpected email or text, and to never give out your PIN number or password, adding that a genuine bank or organisation would never contact you for that information.