Beware financial crime this festive season

As New Zealanders prepare to go on their summer holidays the New Zealand Bankers’ Association cautions people to watch out for financial crime.
“At this busy time it can be easy to let our guard down. While we’re getting ready for the holidays, the fraudsters are hard at work.
“They love this time of year and will take advantage of people who are getting Christmas shopping done and catching up with friends and family,” says New Zealand Bankers’ Association CEO Karen Scott-Howman.
Individuals and businesses both have a role to play in keeping their money safe.
The New Zealand Police supported NZBA’s call for fraud awareness.
Detective Senior Sergeant Iain Chapman of the Auckland Police Financial Crime Unit says, “I encourage people be vigilant when completing online transactions. If you are being asked to send or handle money online, by someone you have never met, there is a high likelihood you are being scammed.
“Stop and question. Use simple internet searches to confirm validity. Type the company name followed by ‘scam’. Chances are, if they are suspect, someone would have posted about it.
“Police encourage you to talk about cyber fraud and security with your friends and family.”
There are all sorts of financial crime we can be alert to. Here are a few useful tips on how to avoid being scammed:
Card safety:

  • Guard your card. Treat it like cash. Make sure you know where your card is at all times.
  • Protect your PIN. Never tell anyone your PINs or passwords – not even the Police, bank staff, friends or family.
  • Cover up. When entering your PIN number at ATMs and payment terminals, shield the PIN pad with your other hand. Criminals may ‘skim’ your card details by attaching a device to the card reader, and then ‘shoulder surf’ or use hidden cameras to record your PIN.

When shopping and banking online:

  • Logon to internet banking by typing in your bank’s full web address. Do not use links that appear to take you to your bank’s website.
  • Check you have a secure connection, which is shown by a padlock symbol somewhere on the page, and that the website address starts with ‘https://’. The ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.
  • Shop with trusted retailers. Before you provide personal information make sure they will protect that information.

Scott-Howman also cautioned people to be alert to so-called ‘phishing’ scams:

“Online scammers use a range of ways to trick people into handing over personal information, usually by phone or email. Once they have that information, such as your account number, log-in details, or password, they can access your identity and your money.”

How to avoid phishing scams:

  • Don’t share your bank account login details, cards, PINS or passwords with anyone – not in person, online, over the phone, or in emails or texts.
  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and you are sure that the number you called is genuine.
  • Don’t reply to, click on any links, or open any files in spam emails or text messages.
  • Don’t call any numbers in spam emails or text messages.
  • Spam emails are often disguised to look legitimate. If it doesn’t seem right, take care and double check first before handing over personal information. It’s always a good idea to check the email address against one you know to be legitimate.

If you think you’ve been the victim of fraud, contact your bank as soon as possible.

Scott-Howman further warned businesses to be beware fake payments fraud:
“As we rush towards end of year deadlines, it’s worth businesses making sure they have the proper systems and checks in place to make sure their payments are going to the right place.”
Payments fraud may involve fake invoices that look legitimate but include a fraudulent bank account number for payment. These scams may also involve fake email addresses for people who would usually authorise payments.