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Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Scams online increased sharply as New Zealanders spent more time on the internet in the last financial year, CERT NZ says.

Online scams and fraud cost Aotearoa people $4.5 million in the 2020-21 financial year, according to CERT NZ.

More than one in five reports responded to by CERT NZ in the year to 30 June 2021 were scams and frauds. The majority of these were fraudulent online sales, but also included relationship fraud.

More people being online due to covid and lockdowns has provided cyber criminals with an opportunity to groom, defraud and exploit with more sophisticated scams, which are becoming harder to spot. Consumers are more vulnerable and more at risk than ever before.

By working together and reporting scams, people can help others to avoid being scammed.

While it is natural to feel some hurt or shame in falling prey to online scammers, it’s important to remember that these are sophisticated systems designed to build your trust. One of the best tools we have to combat them is people reporting them when they happen, to the financial provider, agency, or business, and to the police.

CERT NZ director Rob Pope says New Zealanders can avoid scams by being wary of ‘too good to be true’ deals, and not giving personal information to unknown sources.

Keeping people’s information private is one of the key things people can do to stay safe from online scams. Keeping personal accounts locked down with long, strong passwords and two-factor authentication is another good way people can keep their data away from cyber criminals, Pope says.

CERT NZ has also noticed an increase in scam calls from people offering technical help in 2021.

If people are in doubt about the authenticity of a phone call offering support for your laptop or mobile device, it’s best to hang up and contact the organisation directly via the information on their website.

Scams can be reported to Netsafe, CERT NZ, police, the Department of Internal Affairs and individual telecommunication agencies.