Ninety per cent of New Zealanders are concerned about being scammed or defrauded and one in three say they’ve been a victim. This is according to a new survey just released by Westpac New Zealand (NZ) in conjunction with this week being International Fraud Awareness Week. These findings highlight the growing importance for us to keep our information, such as usernames, passwords and banking PIN numbers, safe.
Westpac NZ’s Head of Financial Crime and Security, Tiffany Ryan, says “Most scams go unreported, but there are industry estimates that New Zealanders may be losing up to $500 million each year to cybercrime and scams run through email, phone calls, text, mail, and door knocks. Card fraud though is the biggest issue. Our advice for people is to be extremely vigilant. They should monitor their bank statements regularly, as well as keep the bank notified of contact detail changes, overseas trips or intended large purchases.”
Westpac NZ monitors customer accounts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for fraudulent activity. When detected, payments are blocked, access immediately suspended, and customers alerted. In the last 12 months alone, Westpac’s financial crime team has prevented more than $22 million of fraud from occurring. We have seen the numbers of attempted fraud increase on last year, but due to protections in place and increased surveillance, the amount being lost to fraud is decreasing.
Ms Ryan says “Customers need to do their bit too, by installing up-to-date anti-virus software on their computer, not clicking on links or responding to texts or emails, and being careful not to authorise payments unless they are absolutely sure of the recipient”.
There is particular concern for the older generation as scammers know how to pressure vulnerable people into quickly giving away confidential details such as PIN numbers, or into transferring money out of their accounts.
Ms Ryan encourages people to have a conversation with their extended families and friends explaining the types of scams and tactics scammers may use to try to get their sensitive information from them, and what they should do if someone they do not know calls them, emails them, texts them, or comes to their front door purporting to be from a particular company.
Most banks do offer their clients some protection to support them in situations of financial fraud. For Westpac clients, provided the customer hasn’t breached their account terms and conditions, they will refund the amount they’ve been defrauded.
Below are some fraud and scam tips that Westpac have shared with us.