7 Dec 2022

NZers fall victim to scammers at a record rate, latest figures show

5:38 am on 7 December 2022
Hacker working on hacking some information. Cyber scam. 13 November 2018

There were 12 reports of losses of more than $100,000 in the latest quarterly summary. Photo: 123rf.com

New Zealanders have lost a record $9 million in internet scams in just three months.

The government's cyber security agency CERT NZ said the number of scams rose 3 percent in the three months ended September, compared with the previous quarter, but the financial loss was up 128 percent.

The agency said it was the highest quarterly loss since record keeping began in 2017, with businesses just as likely as individuals to fall victim.

CERT director Rob Pope said the spike in losses was concerning, but hoped it would inspire people to be more careful about their security online.

"While it's easy to be overwhelmed by the large total loss figures, our data shows that most people are losing between $100 and $500, which is a real sting in the pocket for most of us," Pope said, adding there were 12 reports of losses of more than $100,000.

"We want New Zealanders to take notice of these numbers and use that as motivation to do some quick, simple actions that will stop them, and their whānau, from being the next targets."

The latest report indicated one of the reasons behind the large losses was an increase in unauthorised money transfer, unauthorised access and scams involving buying, selling and donating goods.

Other types of incidents, such as phishing, had corresponding declines.

"As we come into the holiday season, New Zealanders will be looking online for bargains and scammers know it," Pope said.

"We're asking everyone to be cautious when they're shopping online or perusing online marketplaces and be suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true."

Two-factor authentication was regarded as one of the best ways to stop unauthorised access to social media and bank accounts.

The agency offered a number of tips to stay safe on its website.

Pope said scammers typically tried to instil victims with a sense of fear and urgency as a way of getting people to quickly part with their money or personal information.

"And our advice to anyone is when you're confronted with this type of situation, where they're trying to pressure people to make a decision, or urging people to pay something over or give their details, feel, think and act.

"So if it doesn't feel right, don't respond to the urgency or the fear situation. Just think about it," he said, adding the best course of action was to terminate the communication, without touching any part of the message.

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