Three-in-four Kiwis targeted by scams - survey

Almost three-in-four New Zealanders have been targeted by a scam, either online or by phone, according to a recent survey. 

The respondents were presented with different types of cyber-security scenarios and asked if they had every experienced them. 

The results by Research New Zealand show that almost 72 percent said they had been targeted by a scam either online or by phone. Only about one-in-five Kiwis (19 percent) said they had never experienced a cyber-security issue. 

One-third of those surveyed said their computers had stopped working because of a virus, and almost one-third had been asked for their personal log-in details by a stranger. 

Younger people aged 18 to 34 were more likely to have never experienced a cyber-security issue when compared to those who had, the survey found. Respondents who had experienced a cyber-security issue were also more likely to have disconnected from social media. 

Police recently warned the public to hang up immediately if they receive a suspicious call, with reports phone scammers targeting the Chinese community have already made off with millions of dollars overseas.

Another recent warning issued by police described scammers charging people to call them back. The scammers would often leave a message or let the phone ring once before hanging up to entice you to call back - costing you $50. 

There has been a spike in the number of New Zealanders reporting scams, according to cyber-security watchdog group CERT NZ. During the first three months of this year the number has reached 506 which is the highest number on record. 

One-third of those surveyed said their computers had stopped working because of a virus.
One-third of those surveyed said their computers had stopped working because of a virus. Photo credit: Research New Zealand

Are Kiwis taking cyber-security seriously?

Just under half of New Zealanders (44 percent) are worried about what happens to their personal data when they provide it online, according to the New Zealand Research survey. 

And it appears New Zealanders don't trust the Government when it comes to cyber-security issues. Only one-third (32 percent) said they're happy for the Government to share their personal information across government departments. 

The Government recently pledged around $3.9 million over four years to tackle cyber-security - an number that's been criticised by experts who claim more money needs to be put put forward. 

The cost of cyber-crime to New Zealand could be $400 to $500 million annually, according to Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker. He has urged Kiwis to be vigilant and said there needs to be a coordinated response to the growing threat. 

Newshub political reporter Jenna Lynch says New Zealand is "losing money here and they're [the Government] not ramping up anything to protect us from those threats." 

The Research New Zealand survey found that the majority of people who had experienced a cyber-security issue were more likely to own or have access to a PC. 

When it comes to phone scams, police have advised Kiwis to add the number of any international calls you're expecting into your contacts so you know it's safe to answer.

If you're not expecting calls from overseas, police say don't answer them - and certainly don't return their calls.