Warning over scammers fleecing millions from Kiwis

Source: 1News

Kiwis are being warned about “sophisticated” cyber criminals who are trying to scam money out of victims.

Hacker, generic.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says the culprits are scamming New Zealanders out of millions of dollars each year.

“Using duplicated (“spoofed”) phone numbers, realistic dialogue and social engineering triggers, cyber criminals convince their targets to part with log-in details," MBIE said in a statement.

“Scammers are also sending SMS messages with links to fake websites or illicit software that harvest users’ account information."

New Zealand banks, CERT NZ, Consumer Protection, and Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) are working together to prevent cyber attacks.

MBIE have listed some simple ways for New Zealander's to stay safe from scammers:

  • If you are unsure whether the person calling you is legitimate, hang up and call them back using the organisation’s official phone number
  • Turn two-factor authentication on for your banking accounts
  • Never share your password or two-factor authentication codes with anyone, including your bank
  • Do not click on links in unexpected or suspicious text messages or emails
  • Forward any suspicious text messages, free of charge, to 7726, this is a service run by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)
  • If you have clicked on a suspicious link or received a suspicious call where you have given over a 2FA code, contact your bank immediately and report it to CERT NZ (www.cert.govt.nz)

Phone call scammers are also doing the rounds, MBIE say. The scammers are imitating banks call centre phone numbers and copying scripts a real call centre would use.

"It can be difficult to tell the real from the fake. If you have any concerns about the legitimacy of a call the best strategy is to hang up, find the bank’s phone number from its website and call them back. This way you are assured the information is genuine," MBIE said.

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CERT NZ Director Rob Pope says scammers often rely on urgency to make people act without thinking.

“The scammers will use a sense of urgency, hoping you won’t think clearly and will make a mistake.”

Additionally text message phishing has seen a significant increase over the past few years.

DIA's Jared Mullen says, "the advice to Kiwis to avoid being a target stays the same: be savvy, always question a link before you click on it, and if something doesn’t feel right, report it.”