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Kiwis Confronted With An Alarming Rise In Online Identity Theft

Newly released data from Netsafe shows incidents of identity fraud in New Zealand have increased by a shocking 86 per cent over the last financial year, while incidents of investment fraud have risen by 37 per cent over the same period.

With more and more of New Zealanders’ lives moving online, and more information about us easily available, scammers are increasingly using social engineering tactics, like pretending to be other people or organisations, to trick people in to giving up personal information, or getting them to perform certain actions that could harm their personal and financial reputations.

This Fraud Awareness week Consumer Protection is urging people to think about the personal information they share online, and to not suffer in silence if they become a victim of identity theft.

A lot of personal information can be found online already says the New Zealand Police and the information we share can make New Zealanders targets for scammers.

“Kiwis are trusting people, and that can make this country appear to be a soft target to overseas scammers,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Dalziel, NZ Police Cybercrime Unit.

“It is important that people think about how much personal information they share online and who they are sharing it with. If you control the amount of information you release, you can reduce the chance of someone stealing your identity.”

This is doubly important with Christmas approaching and as COVID 19 restrictions see people at home and online more.

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Netsafe suggests there are a few key pieces of advice that can help protect people engaging online.

“Scammers are criminals who work around the clock to invent webpages, adverts and emails with the same objective in mind, and that is to rip people off and potentially steal their private details,” says Martin Cocker, Chief Executive Officer of Netsafe.

“People contacting you out of the blue asking to verify account details, or telling you that there is a problem with your phone or internet services are possible signs of potential fraud. When in doubt about the identity of someone saying they are from a particular business and asking for your information, it’s a good idea to hang up and call the business back directly,” says Mr Cocker.

Reporting these scams is an important tool in the fight to protect others and thwart scammers, says MBIE Consumer Protection National Manager Simon Gallagher.

“While it is natural to feel some hurt or shame in falling prey to online scammers, it’s important to remember that these are sophisticated systems designed to build your trust. One of the best tools we have to combat them is people reporting it when they happen, to the financial provider, agency, or business, and to the police.”

Consumer Protection and the agencies it works with are encouraging people to be aware of what types of scams to look out for, how to avoid them and how to take action.

Visit the Fraud Awareness Week 2021 page to find out the steps to take and who to reach for help.


Notes to the editor:

Fraud Awareness Week, 14-20 November 2021 is a cross-government initiative co-ordinated through the Interagency Fraud Working Group that includes:

• Netsafe

• Department of Internal Affairs

• Financial Markets Authority

• Banking Ombudsman

• Commerce Commission
• Commission for Financial Capability
• Department of Prime Ministers and Cabinet
• Commercial Banks – BNZ/ANZ/ASB
• NZ Police
• New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF)
• Serious Fraud Office

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