Fraud Awareness Week – NetSafe

Date
Author:
Martin Cocker, Executive Director, NetSafe

NetSafe exists to promote confident, safe, and responsible use of online technologies. First established in 1998 as the Internet Safety Group, it became NetSafe in 2006 and has continued to evolve alongside online threats.

NetSafe Executive Director Martin Crocker gave us his insight into current frauds and scams just ahead of International Fraud Awareness Week (15-21 November 2015).

Evolution of scams and fraud

When NetSafe was first established scams were limited by the technology. Most were delivered by email – fake lottery or inheritance scams were the most common. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the harm from online scams and fraud was barely recognised.

Now, most people are exposed to scams regularly.  Think of every time you see a '1 millionth visitor' popup online, receive text spam, or hear from the fake tech support people via the landline.  In the past few months we have experienced another wave of phone support scammers, which prompted us to work with Microsoft to increase awareness.

For businesses – Ransomware is a constant threat, and the 'insider email' where a spoofed email from management requests a funds transfer has led to some big losses. Right now, Ashley Madison based blackmail is rising steeply as the cyber criminals convert the leaked database into targets. 

How can people protect themselves against fraud?

If the right scam is presented to people at the right time, it will have a good chance of success.

As a simple overview – pay attention to these four things:

  1. Be sceptical: Everything and everyone online can be misrepresented. Scammers are patient and will often take multiple steps to create credibility. If your only contact has been online – remain sceptical.
  2. Investigate: A quick online search on names and details of an offer will often be enough to identify it as a scam.
  3. Hold on to your money: The key point to stop and review your interaction is when a financial transaction is requested. Wherever possible, use the bank or credit cards to make payments for online transactions as there are more options if things go wrong.
  4. Slow down: Scammers put time pressure on and try to create urgency because speed works in their favour.

What to do if it happens?

Visit NetSafe.org.nz or scamwatch.govt.nz

Most financial losses are not recoverable – but there are often remedial steps to prevent further losses. Sometimes steps need to be taken to reclaim control of online services or remove malware. NetSafe can advise on those (0508 NetSafe) if required.

Also report it at theorb.org.nz. Not enough is known about scams and scam losses in this country yet. Every report is valuable and contributes to the development of the anti-scam and fraud program.