Scammers taking advantage of Cyclone Gabrielle tragedy

Scammers are taking advantage of the tragedy from Cyclone Gabrielle to try and make money, authorities are warning.

At least one bank has received several reports of scammers targeting its customers.

Westpac's head of financial crime Mark Coxhead said it had heard of about a dozen reports of attempted scams but said he feared that number could rise.

"It's really common, and it's really sad, but scammers are trying to take advantage of people when they're at their lowest, they're trying to catch you off guard," he said.

CERT NZ, the government agency monitoring cyber security threats in New Zealand, said millions of dollars each year are lost via scams.

Its incident response team manager Jordan Heerspring said there can be a spike in attempts after a tragedy like Cyclone Gabrielle.

"We've seen scams around funding for support for refugees in the Ukraine war, earthquakes we've seen in South America... and even in Covid we saw several reports of people trying to scam people out of money for paying for vaccinations."

Tips to avoid being scammed

  • Avoid using your internet banking password for anything else and make sure you do not save it to your browser.
  • Keep your device operating system, apps and anti-virus software up to date and ensure all your devices are protected with a PIN, password or biometric.
  • Report any scam calls you receive directly to your telecommunications provider.
  • Always access internet banking through a banks website, not from links in text messages or emails.
  • Never allow anyone who calls you out of the blue to have remote access to your devices
  • Never provide or confirm your credit card details, internet banking log in details, PINS and two factor authentication codes in response to a phone call you've received out of the blue, even if they say they are from the bank or the police.
  • If you think you have been the victim of a fraud or scam contact your bank immediately.


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