Coronavirus: Scammers posing as doctors and health officials target Kiwis

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Two in three Kiwis surveyed admitted they wouldn't know what to do if someone got their details and was able to impersonate them online. Photo credit: Getty

A cybersecurity company says online scammers are profiting off COVID-19.

With people stuck working at home, perhaps without the usual safeguards their IT systems would offer, Norton says criminals are targeting people's sense of insecurity and fear.

"What we're seeing is a lot of emails coming through pretending to be the WHO or emails from your doctor," Norton LifeLock business manager Samantha Edwards told Newshub.

"They're wanting you to click onto the links. [They're using] scare tactics: 'Click here because someone in your neighborhood might have COVID-19' or 'get to a testing station here'. 

"What they're trying to do is get you to click on the information and then they will grab your personal identifiable information in the background."

Her claims come as the company releases its latest cybersecurity report, which found more than half of New Zealanders (59 percent) fell victim to cyber crime last year, including more than 600,000 reporting some form of identity theft. 

Two in three Kiwis surveyed admitted they wouldn't know what to do if someone got their details and was able to impersonate them online.

"What we're seeing is New Zealanders who have historically taken a 'she'll be right' attitude are increasingly aware of the chance of identity theft but don't know what to do if it does happen, and they're desperate for more information," says Norton's Mark Gorrie.

Kiwis are also less trusting of social media companies than the world average - 54 percent distrusting the likes of Facebook, compared to 43 percent worldwide. 

With many people finding themselves with extra free time on their hands while in lockdown, Edwards said many Kiwis will be downloading new apps to try out - and they should be reading the terms and conditions.

While the survey found 86 percent of Kiwis thought it was important to know what's happening with their data, only 2 percent actually reported bothering to read the terms and conditions of every app they downloaded.

"What we should be doing is reading through and seeing where our information is being sent to and what the company is actually doing with that information. But in reality... they're quite lengthy and wordy." 

She also said to be wary of grey and black market free streaming sites and apps, like Movies123 and Popcorn Time, as they can be a way for scammers to obtain personal information. 

Emails containing bad grammar and spelling should also be mistrusted, she said. 

 

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