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'TIS the season to be wary

12 December, 2005

'TIS the season to be wary

Tips from ASB as peak time of year for fraudulent activity approaches

ASB warns the public that the rising instances of online fraud mean people should be extra vigilant during the festive season.

Clayton Wakefield, Head of Technology, Operations and Cards, ASB says attempts to defraud New Zealanders online are higher than they've ever been, and criminals are becoming increasingly plausible with their ability to deceive people.

"Christmas is the peak season for criminals to go shopping at other people's expense. ASB has introduced two factor technology to help protect its customers against online banking fraud, but all people transacting online need to be wary.

"With the increased use and convenience of online shopping and banking, and the wider range of payment options available, criminals are trying new ways to defraud people. People need to look at what more they can do to protect themselves.

"More than 40,000 customers have registered for Netcode, ASB's two factor authentication security solution in the year since it was launched. There have been no fraudulent transactions above any of our customers' self selected Netcode limits.

Maarten Kleintjes, National Manager, New Zealand Police E-Crime Laboratory, says one of the latest tactics criminals are using is recruiting New Zealanders as "mules".

"We are seeing increasing instances where people, who are selling or promoting goods and services online, are approached by buyers overseas. The buyer forwards money as payment, creating a false sense of trust, then almost immediately backs out of the transaction with a plausible excuse, and asks for the money, or part of it, to be returned.

"The money is actually stolen from a New Zealand bank account, and the vendor (mule) has helped the criminal to transfer it out of the country. Don't be a mule this summer - anyone asked to refund money to someone overseas should check with their bank, before transferring any funds."

ASB has developed the "Top 10 Fiscal Tips @ Xmas" as a practical guide for New Zealanders to manage their finances this holiday season.

1. Check the online shopping site you're browsing is secure: Check that https:// is displayed on your browser address bar and that a padlock is displayed in the bottom right hand corner of your browser to ensure that site is secure for entering credit card details. Shop at reputable online stores.

2. Give your PC a health check: Check that all operating system patches are up to date, your firewall is working, and your antivirus software is up to date. If you don't already have anti-spyware software then put it on the list for Santa! Check www.netsafe.org.nz for tips.

3. Be careful using untrusted PCs to do your banking: When you're on holiday it can be convenient to go online and manage your banking. ASB cautions people to be vigilant banking online at untrusted computers, such as Internet cafes, as they may have been compromised by previous users. Phone and mobile phone banking are safer options when you don't have access to a trusted computer.

4. Don't give away personal details: * Never disclose your online banking username and password, or PIN code for your EFTPOS or credit cards. * Don't enter too much personal information on websites - remember that whatever you enter could be used against you. * Watch out for door knockers. Christmas is a common time for fraudsters posing as charities to take advantage of festive generosity. Don't be pressured into giving out your credit card or bank account information.

5. Beware of "Phishers": Banks will never ask for your online banking username and password by email or phone. Call your bank Contact Centre immediately if this happens.

6. Keep on top of your spending: Christmas can be an expensive time. Keep track of your bank balances and credit card spending to ensure you don't get any nasty surprises in your next statement.

7. Set up Netcode, two factor protection for online banking: Two factor authentication is an added level of security for people banking online, currently provided by ASB and BankDirect. Registered customers receive an SMS text message or use a digital token to enter a unique code to authenticate themselves when they carry out an applicable transaction.

8. Split up your cards: If you're heading out for a night this Christmas keep your EFTPOS and credit cards in separate locations (e.g. one in your pocket, one in your wallet).

9. Watch out for skimmers: It's not uncommon for people to secretly "skim" or copy your credit card when paying for goods or services. This allows people to capture your card details and use them for fraudulent purchases. Never let your card out of sight and check your balance regularly.

10. Travel safely: If you're travelling overseas this Christmas, there are safer alternatives to large amounts of foreign cash - cards and travellers cheques. Remember to split up your cards and travellers cheques too.

For more tips from ASB visit the Security section at www.asb.co.nz .

ENDS


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