Govt launches Scam Awareness Week

People are being urged to be on the lookout for consumer ruses during Scam Awareness Week, which began today.

People are being urged to be on the lookout for consumer ruses during Scam Awareness Week, which began today.

"According to research commissioned by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, New Zealanders greatly underestimate the cost of scams," Consumer Affairs Minister John Boscawen said.

"Of 1000 people surveyed, 90 percent believed New Zealanders lose under $300 million a year -- but the cost is closer to $450 million per year."

Mr Boscawen said the ministry's scamwatch website received about 3500 reports annually, including from people who had lost everything by falling victim to a scam.

"The ministry's research also showed that most New Zealanders believe that scams originate in Africa in and Asia when, in fact, scammers can be based anywhere in the world -- it's incredibly easy for a scammer to set up a fake email address and then claim they are in London, or to phone and claim they're in Sydney, when they're actually somewhere else entirely," he said.

"Scammers rely, and prey, on human vulnerabilities and money sent overseas is virtually impossible to recover. New Zealanders need to stay on their guard and remember the old message: if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is."

The annual awareness week is a joint initiative as part of an Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce campaign.

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