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Insights on how to protection yourself against, fraud, scams, identity theft, phishing, elder abuse

Scammers are now more sophisticated than ever, and their methods to deceive constantly evolving. Cyber security experts would like to remind our customers that there are a few simple things you can do to help protect yourself from being the next victim of a fraudulent scam.



More information on cyber security is on the CERT website


Netsafe is New Zealand’s independent, non-profit online safety organisation.

In quarter two, CERT NZ responded to 2,001 incident reports about individuals and businesses from all over New Zealand. Their latest report shares information around these incidents as well as highlights examples of the work CERT NZ is doing to help.

In NZ $3.9 million in direct financial loss was reported in Q2. 19% of incidents reported financial loss. To read the latest report for NZ - Quarter Two: Cyber Security Insights 2022 | CERT NZ


As covered in this report, scammers may use technology to initiate an attack, but they also rely on New Zealanders’ trusting nature to carry out their scam. Being a cyber resilient Aotearoa isn’t just about technology, it’s about making sure everyone has the basic tools at their disposal to be secure online.


To keep yourself informed on protection measures – how to be safe online and on the phone – visit NZ Government Consumer protection site Avoiding scams | Consumer Protection


Be cyber security savvy – visit NZ Government Cyber Security website for information, latest reports and reporting of security incidents Home | CERT NZ www.cert.govt.nz

There are many different types of scams, however we’ll specifically cover three in this article - identity theft, phishing scams, and elder financial exploitation.


Identity theft


If your personal information falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to steal your identity which may result in a criminal using your identity to try and access the funds in your accounts or insurance policy.


Identity theft often involves malicious actors piecing your personal data together from a variety of compromised sources – and you may not realise your identity has been stolen straight away.


Here are some of the warning signs:

  • mail you're expecting doesn't arrive.

  • you get calls following up about products and services you've never used.

  • unusual emails appear in your inbox.

Advice and support for victims of identity theft

  • iDcare – Australia & New Zealand’s National Identity Support Service

  • What is identity theft? | Department of Internal Affairs


Phishing


Phishing occurs when a scammer impersonating a trusted organisation, such as Microsoft, a bank, insurance company or government agency, tricks a victim into opening an email, instant message, or text message. Sometimes the phishing attack is made by an automated voice call or via a pop-up while you’re browsing the internet.

Scammers use this method to trick you into revealing information such as passwords, account and identification details or credit card numbers. They may also manipulate you into downloading malware that tracks your online activity and steals passwords or login credentials.


For reporting a scam in NZ – visit Home | Consumer Protection site or www.cert.govt.nz for cyber security incidents reporting


Elder Financial Exploitation


Elder abuse is defined as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.


Financial exploitation of the elderly is a form of elder abuse and happens when someone takes or misuses money, assets, or property without agreement or consent.

Older members of our community are generally targeted due to their typically higher levels of accumulated savings, in addition to other factors that can make them vulnerable including where there is a dependence on others for care or a lack of familiarity or understanding of technology and financial management.


What can you do if you suspect elder abuse?


To strengthen your own resilience and help you raise awareness among your family and friends, we recommend following these tips.


Keep your data safe

  • Always keep your personal and account information safe. Don't share your PINs or passwords and don't write them down anywhere – if you forget them, you can always call your financial institution for assistance.

  • Use strong passwords consisting of letters, numbers, and symbols, and change them regularly. Use different passwords for logging in to online services. If some of your information is compromised, you won’t lose it all.

  • Be up to date with software updates. Always update your computer, tablet, and smartphone operating systems as soon as these become available and install anti-virus software.

  • Check the sender’s email address carefully. If an email claims to be from a bank, company or government agency, check the sender’s email address. A legitimate email from this kind of organisation won’t end in the name of a free email service such as Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail. Check the text after the @ matches the organisation’s official website, e.g., an email from Netsafe will end @netsafe.org.nz.

  • Don’t trust unexpected contact. Scams most often come through cold contact, e.g., an unexpected phone call or email. Always take steps to know who you’re dealing with find out more before considering any offers.

  • Do your research. Use Google to research the person or organisation who has contacted you. Search the email address or company name followed by the word ‘scam’ to see if anyone has reported scam activity.

  • Don’t click on any links until you verify it’s safe. Scam emails often include links designed to get you to enter personal information on a fraudulent website. Google the name of the organisation to research their official website, email addresses and phone number. If in doubt, use the official phone number to call the organisation the email claims to be from.

  • Resist demands to act quickly. Anyone presenting a legitimate opportunity will allow you time to consider your response. If you feel under pressure, take some time — or turn it down.

  • Keep your computer virus protection up to date. CERT NZ’s website has advice for anyone wanting to improve their personal cyber security.

  • Never open attachments or click on links in emails if words or images make you feel unsure about the sender. You have nothing to lose by deleting the email.

  • Reserve the right to be impolite. Sometimes you need to be firm to keep yourself safe from scams. It’s OK to say no outright if you have a bad feeling about something.

  • Stay informed – visit NZ government websites for advice and reporting Internet safety | New Zealand Police


Online child safety


Visit NZ Police website for advice on how to keep your children safe online and to read about online child exploitation.


The site also contains related links to other government child safety organisations.

The Internet is an important source of knowledge, a research tool and a means of social interaction for children, but it can also expose them to dangers and inappropriate material. That’s why it is important to know how to keep your children safe online.

Some things you can do to help your children stay safe online include:

  • install software on your computer which either blocks restricted content so your children cannot access certain sites, or monitors activity so that you can review online behaviour

  • know who your children are making contact with online. If they are not your children’s actual friends then question their cyber friendship

  • know which social networking sites your child is on and what information they are posting

  • check that your children understand the dangers of posting personal information on social networking sites

  • do not allow your children to use the computer in private areas of your home

  • if you or your child becomes suspicious about a person online, stop contact immediately.

Use multi-factor authentication (MFA)


It’s always a good idea to use multi-factor protection for accessing your key systems and accounts as it adds an extra layer of defence. MFA is a security technology that requires multiple methods of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify a user's identity for a login or other transaction.

Visit NZ Police, CERT NZ, or Netsafe websites for advice and recommendations for improving your online and mobile devices security security.


Spot phishing emails


Get cyber-savvy – learn how to spot and report phishing emails. Firstly, phishing emails often have misspellings. Secondly, you can usually see that they’re not from the organisation they claim to be by looking at the sender’s email address. Don’t just look at the header address though – expand the header, or hover over it, and look out for unusual domain names. And whatever you do, don’t click the links!

Visit NZ Police, CERT NZ, or Netsafe websites for advice and recommendations for improving your online and mobile devices security security.


Never give out personal or security-related information. We would never ask for your online passwords, or security codes.

Protect your username and password like you would your banking password and PIN.

Never download or install software you're not familiar with or allow a person making an unsolicited call to access your computer remotely.

Check the address of any website you're on. Be careful with the level of detail you share on social media sites and check your privacy settings.


Be cautious on the phone


Be careful when receiving phone calls or emails claiming to be from a reputable organisation.


If the caller claims to be from a bank, company or government agency, take their name and ask if you can call them back. Call the contact phone number listed on a trustworthy source, eg a bank statement, bank card, official website or phone book listing. A scammer will typically try to keep you on the phone, while a legitimate service provider will be happy to receive a call back.


If someone legitimate contacts you, chances are it won't come as a total surprise. But whether or not you were expecting the message, make sure the person contacting you is actually from the company they say they're from – don't just take their word for it.

Criminals can falsify phone numbers and pose convincingly as employees of a financial institution or other trusted officials and in doing so, trick you into revealing security details by telling you you've been a victim of fraud.


If you have any doubt at all, get the caller's name and contact information and hang up. Then, contact the company directly, using an email or phone number from the company's website.


If someone calls you unexpectedly to sell financial products, hang up. It’s illegal to sell financial products through a cold call in NZ. If you are contacted in this way, it’s likely to be a scam.


Before you invest

  • Check with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) to make sure any offer you receive is legitimate. The FMA publishes a list of firms that have tried to scam people in New Zealand. You can phone the FMA Helpline on 0800 434 567. Warnings(external link) — FMA

  • Make sure the business or individual you’re dealing with is regulated or licensed by the FMA to operate in New Zealand. Licensed providers(external link) — FMA

  • Be extra wary of businesses based overseas and not licensed in New Zealand. It’s often impossible to get your money back if the investment turns out to be a scam.

  • Before signing up to any multi-level marketing scheme, question whether it could be a pyramid-selling scam. This means its success is based on the costs of being a member, eg fees or training.

  • Get financial advice before you make any investment decisions. Don’t be pressured into making a quick decision.


Trust your instincts


If something feels wrong or seems too good to be true, question it. Always make it a point to think carefully about the information you're giving and the decisions you're being asked to make, and have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial details.


Again, if contacted by telephone get the caller's name, hang up and call the company directly on a number from a trusted source.


Keep your contact details up to date


Finally, it’s very important you always ensure your contact details with us are up to date so we can more effectively verify your identity when we need to, and we can quickly get in touch if we suspect your account or policy is ever compromised. If you move house, get your mail redirected and update your contact details as soon as possible.


Recognise when you are most at risk to scammers


It's true that unexpected contact is the most common delivery method for scams, but you can also be targeted by a scammer who knows something about you. Someone running a scam may have found out more about you online than you are aware, picking up on what’s happening in your life, which bank you use, what you’re looking for online.

We are most vulnerable to scams that make sense in the context of our lives.

For example:

  • If your computer has been working slowly lately, you may be more likely to believe a scammer who says you need new software.

  • If you have been shopping online, you may be more likely to believe you are shopping on a fake site and notifications that demand added payment for parcel delivery.

  • If you are looking for a connection online, you may be more likely to find a scammer who will rely on your good nature to build a relationship before asking for money or involving you in crime without your knowledge.

  • If you are active online but not super tech smart you may and be more likely to believe a scammer who offers to fix a fault on the computer which might allow them access to private information found on that computer.

  • If you have a utility bill due, you may be more likely to believe a scammer who presents a fake invoice and demands urgent payment of an electricity invoice.

  • If you are looking for a way to replace income, you may be more likely to take an offer from a scammer who uses you to move money using your own account – illegally.

  • If you are looking to make more from your money, you may be more likely to jump at limited time only returns that are took good to pass up and lose everything in the process by not doing your homework.

  • If you are active online, you may be fooled into believing that you have to pay ransom to stop scammers from sharing explicit material to all contacts.

  • If your house needs to be painted, you might be more likely to pay upfront for a cheap door-to-door deal by a scammer who doesn’t deliver.

It can feel like a negative approach but it’s important to be suspicious to keep yourself safe when a scam is more difficult to spot.


What to do if you suspect a scam or fraud


If you receive any suspicious calls, emails or text messages relating to your insurance products, or if you notice any unusual activity on your account or policy, it’s important to let us know. Please call us on 03 595 5491 or email office@connectandgrow.co.nz

Report a scam on NZ Consumer Protection website Home | Consumer Protection Report a scam | Consumer Protection




Source: Resolution Life

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