Banks progress anti-scam initiatives

Work towards establishing a national Anti-Scam Centre to further fight fraud and scams is progressing as retail banks make it harder for criminals to target New Zealanders.

New Zealand Banking Association chief executive Roger Beaumont says: “Banks are often at the end of a chain of events that makes up a scam and we know a coordinated multi-sector approach is needed to further protect customers.

“The first phase of work is now live and is focused on sharing additional information to help identify and reduce fraudulent payments to mule accounts. Banks were already sharing some information on money mules, but the new phase of work will increase the speed and amount of information being shared.”

A money mule is a person, or company, used by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money on their behalf. Money mules are a growing issue in New Zealand.

“It’s been really positive to see the effort our banks have put into this, with some very smart and talented financial crime, legal, privacy and technology experts working together to tackle this issue. We are committed to further progressing this work with support from other agencies by mid next year.”

Other initiatives, including introducing a ‘confirmation of payee’ account name checking service, and removing weblinks from texts to customers are also progressing strongly.

“We are currently looking at technical options and extensive work is underway to ensure compliance with existing privacy laws. This will enable a timeline for the initiatives, including implementation of a confirmation of payee service, which will allow people making an online payment from one bank account to another to check the name of the account they are paying. We expect to provide more detail by the end of April.

“Scammers often use weblinks or hyperlinks in text messages to gain access to people’s bank accounts. To help reduce this kind of scam risk, banks have committed to removing links from texts to customers. Some banks are already there, and nearly all will have done this by the end of April, with others following as soon as they can.

“Raising public awareness about scams and how to avoid them is also a priority for us. Our banks already provide scam information and tips to their customers through a variety of channels, including TV advertising, social media, and on their websites. To complement that we’ll be re-running our ‘Take a Sec to Check’ radio campaign over the summer holidays. We’ll be encouraging everyone to ‘take a sec’ before making a payment or giving away personal information, just to be sure it’s not a scam.”

Help keep yourself safe from scams – take a sec to check before parting with your money or personal information

  • Trust your instincts – if it feels wrong, it probably is. Urgency is a red flag – scammers try to rush you.
  • Your bank will never ask you for passwords, log-in details, or two factor authentication codes, nor will they send you an email or text message asking you to log in.
  • Your bank will never tell you to move your money to a ‘safe’ account, or ask you to use your money to help catch a scammer.
  • Think carefully before entering your credit card details online.
  • Be cautious with unsolicited texts, emails, or calls – don’t give out details that could be used to impersonate you.
  • Don’t click on links or open attachments from people you don’t know, or seem out of character for someone you do know. Hover over links to reveal the actual site.
  • Don’t respond to instructions to download unknown software – it could be malware to access your accounts.
  • Be careful of deals or investments that sound too good to be true – they probably are. Contact investment firms or businesses via their official New Zealand based websites, and never via online contacts, emails, links, or phone numbers sent to you directly or from other websites on the internet.
  • Use strong, unique passwords and PINs for your banking – don’t write them down or record them.
  • If you think you’ve been scammed report it to your bank immediately.

More information about the anti-scam initiatives announced in September is available here: