Over half of NZ Facebook users concerned about marketplace scams, but almost 40 pct don't know to protect themselves - report

A new survey has shed light on New Zealanders' online shopping, social media, and cybersecurity habits, revealing that despite a staggering 96 percent of Kiwis using e-retailers and marketplaces, almost 40 percent don't know how to protect themselves against scams.

The research, commissioned by anti-virus and security software provider Norton, found the prevalence of e-commerce in New Zealand is not without its risks, with 20 percent of online shoppers admitting to being snared by a scam.   

Norton's Asia-Pacific managing director, Mark Gorrie, said the proliferation of online scams indicates that despite most Kiwis (61 percent) believing in their ability to verify the safety of a merchant, that confidence may be undue.   

"New Zealanders are a resourceful bunch. That is due in part to its location: we all love a good deal, and importing goods can be pricey," Gorrie said.  

"Secondary markets for goods are dominated by Trade Me and Facebook Marketplace, and many Kiwis like to buy and sell through these platforms.  

"While there are deals to be won, the fact is whenever money is involved, scammers will try to take advantage of people."  

The 2023 Norton Cyber Safety omnibus survey found 30 percent of New Zealanders shop online at least weekly; 33 percent do so monthly. Of the country's legion of online shoppers, the majority (63 percent) reported being concerned about scams.   

In the survey, online shopping also encompassed exchanges through social channels, such as the popular Facebook Marketplace. Of the Facebook users who participated in the research, more than half (55 percent) said they are concerned about being scammed on social media marketplaces, while 29 percent said they personally know someone who has fallen victim to a scam. Ten percent said they had been scammed themselves.   

When it comes to general use of social media, Kiwis are indeed a social bunch - online, at least. Of those surveyed, 92 percent said they use one or more social networking apps, the most popular being Facebook (89 percent), followed by Instagram (53 percent); TikTok (25 percent); Snapchat (24 percent); LinkedIn (23 percent); and X, formerly known as Twitter (17 percent). Eighty-two percent of female respondents reported using social media daily, compared to 66 percent of males; meanwhile, just 5 percent of female participants said they never use social media, compared to 11 percent of males.   

Of those who claimed they are confident in their ability to avoid marketplace scams, the vast majority (84 percent) said they protect themselves by never giving out their personal information, such as their bank account number or credit card details. The second most common tactic was to avoid "anything that seems too good to be true" (81 percent), followed by never clicking links from sources that couldn't be completely trusted (76 percent). Sixty-six percent said they will always check out the seller's profile to conduct their own 'security check'.  

"It's encouraging to see the tactics Kiwi employ to protect themselves. Vigilance is important," Gorrie added.

The research follows the launch of Norton Genie, an AI-powered scam detection app designed to help New Zealanders understand and avoid scams. Users can upload a screenshot - or copy and paste the text message, social media post, email, or website - into the app to get a verdict on whether the retailer or listing is potentially untrustworthy.   

Another simple way to protect yourself online is to enable two-factor authentication via a platform like Google Authenticator, which provides an additional layer of security for online transactions and accounts by requiring a dynamically generated code along with a password for login.  

New Zealand Police also offers advice for spotting a range of online scams, including those conducted via social networking sites, emails, and cold calls.  

The research was conducted online in New Zealand by Dynata on behalf of Norton parent company Gen among 1020 adults aged 18 and over. The survey ran from July 4 to July 15, 2023.