Fight the scammers. Don't respond. Fraud Awareness Week 3-10 March 2008
3 March 2008
Fraud Awareness Week starts today and the Commerce Commission and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs are warning consumers that scammers are out to seduce and deceive them.
Fraud Awareness Week 2008 aims to raise New Zealander's awareness about scams, how they can spot and report scams and how they can protect themselves and others from scams.
"Scammers use every trick in the book to get you to part with your money and personal details," says Deborah Battell, Commerce Commission Acting General Manager.
Seduction scams involve great offers that will never deliver what they promise, whether it's easy money, great prizes or true love. They look too good to be true, because they are.
Deception scams work because scammers pretend to be from legitimate banks or businesses, asking for personal information, so they can steal your money and your identity.
"Scams work because they look like the real thing and they can be hard to spot. Scammers are manipulative - they push your buttons to get the response they want," says Liz MacPherson, General Manager, Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
By using new technology and clever techniques scammers are constantly finding new ways to contact and deceive consumers.
"Never give a scammer a chance. Consumers can protect themselves. If in doubt, don't respond," says Liz MacPherson.
Every year thousands of New Zealanders are targeted by scammers. Most scams originate from outside New Zealand and target millions of consumers worldwide. They often use spam tactics, sending their offers by email, text, phone or letters, to target widely and globally.
"Once money is sent overseas it is virtually impossible to recover. This is why education and prevention strategies are currently the most effective way to deal with scams," says Deborah Battell. "but scammers should be aware that, internationally, enforcement agencies are working together to track them down and stop these schemes."
During Fraud Awareness Week 2008 the new, improved SCAMwatch website, with updated, more in-depth information is being launched. SCAMwatch is designed by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to help consumers protect themselves and others from being scammed.
Liz MacPherson's and Deb Battell's advice is "Fight the scammers. Don't respond."
Fraud Awareness Week initiatives are part of a worldwide effort by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network.
In Australia and New Zealand, initiatives are run under the umbrella of the Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (ACFT). The ACFT was established in March 2005 and comprises 19 trans-Tasman government regulatory agencies and departments. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Commerce Commission are members of the ACFT and coordinate the New Zealand initiative, with a number of other organisations that undertake their own action in parallel.
Fraud Awareness Week 2008 is supported by agencies including the:
- Banking Ombudsman
- Department of Internal Affairs
- Inland Revenue Department
- NZ Police
- Ministry of Economic Development
- Privacy Commissioner
- Securities Commission
- Serious Fraud Office.
In 2008, a number of private organisations are also supporting Fraud Awareness Week, by undertaking fraud awareness activities and action to coincide with the week. These organisations are:
Telecommunications: Telecom, Telstra Clear, Vodafone New Zealand.
Banking: New Zealand Bankers Association, Visa New Zealand.
Other sectors: Netsafe, Symantec, TradeMe, Western Union.
Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce 2008 survey - The Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce is again running a survey to find out about any scams that consumers have received and how they have responded to them. Gathering this information will help to improve the detection and prevention of scams.
Consumers who think they've spotted a scam can get more information and report them on the Scamwatch website at www.scamwatch.govt.nz
Consumers can also contact the Commerce Commission to report New Zealand based scams and possible breaches of the Fair Trading Act by calling 0800 943 600, emailing email@example.com or via their website www.comcom.govt.nz
Felicity Connell, Senior Communications Adviser, Commerce Commission
Phone work (04) 924 3709, mobile 021 225 4454
Julie Allan, Senior Communications Adviser, Ministry of Consumer Affairs
Phone work (04) 470 2302, mobile 021 513 833