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Top tips to avoid being caught by fraudsters

Fraudsters use all kinds of tricks to steal from businesses. By taking sensible precautions you can avoid becoming a victim.

Online scammers and fraudsters use all kinds of tricks to steal from businesses. By taking sensible precautions you and your business can avoid becoming victims.

Last year, almost $800,000 was lost from 35 small businesses that were the victims of cybercrime, according to NetSafe. That’s an average of $22,521 for each victim.

Small businesses reported 309 incidents so far this year, compared with 106 during the same period during 2014. Scroll down to find out what the main threats are.

Ahead of Fraud Awareness Week, here are some top tips to prevent being caught out by scammers.

Ahead of Fraud Awareness Week, here are some top tips to prevent being caught out by scammers.

Don’t assume a company is based in New Zealand just because the website address ends .co.nz or .nz. Check to see if a company is registered in New Zealand on the Companies Office website (external link)

Check that payment pages look secure. Look for a padlock symbol and make sure the website address begins with “https” (the “s” stands for secure).

Type the company’s name into a search engine, followed by the word “scam”. If the company is fake, you may uncover stories from people who’ve been caught out by the same scam.

Always check out a trader’s contact details, especially if it’s just a mobile number or an email. Ring a landline if they provide one - and if you can’t get through or it goes to an overseas call centre, it may be a scam.

Scams (external link)  get more advice about scams – Consumer Protection

  • Don’t respond if you have any doubts that the company or product is fake.
  • Don’t open suspicious or unsolicited emails or letters.
  • Don’t click on any links in a spam email or open any files attached to them.
  • Never reply to a spam email or letter.
  • If you receive a call with an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is – so hang up.
  • Call your bank immediately if you have sent your credit details or paid some money to a suspicious trader.

Report a scam and warn your friends and trading partners. Advice on how to report an incident is available at The Orb website (external link) and on the Internal Affairs website (external link) .

Steps to lock down your systems and processes at work.

Be aware of these five current threats to small businesses.

Email scams: Hackers intercept a business’ emails, and then send false invoices to clients, asking for payment to be made to an alternative bank account. 

Ransomware: The infection of small business systems, impacting on business continuity and frequent need to pay a Bitcoin ransom due to poor or non-existent backups.

Spear phishing:Targeted emails requesting the payment/bank transfer of company funds to offshore accounts. This can involve the creation of almost duplicate domain names to increase the chance of success.

Invoice fraud: The sending of fake or dubious invoices to trick companies into renewing intellectual property registrations or enter online directories. The most significant this year has been the Corporate Portal scam – read the Commerce Commission’s warning (external link) .

Funding scams: The NZ Funding Grants website (external link) has tricked many small firms into paying fees to find grants are non-existent. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Commerce Commission have warned about this company. Check out Business.govt.nz’s free information on government grants for small businesses.

Fraud Awareness Week, 15 – 21 November, is run by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Consumer Protection team.

Scams (external link)  – Consumer Protection

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