#romancescams | Fraud and scams – what to look out for


Since Covid-19, there has been a rise in attempted fraud activity, particularly with romance and job scams.

While we were busy battling Covid-19 and our new lockdown lifestyles, ASB also had another fight on their hands – against fraudsters.

Yes, while most of the country had their attention elsewhere, the bank saw a predicted rise in attempted fraud activity, particularly with romance and job scams, compromised emails and phishing (fake emails pretending to be from reputable companies trying to get personal details from the recipient).

ASB is not alone. Countless organisations have seen the rapid growth of external fraud attempts over the past few years as technology gets smarter and fraudsters more audacious.

As financial institutions have improved the detection and control of more traditional attacks where customers’ accounts are directly accessed, fraudsters have turned to more complex schemes aimed at tricking people into giving out their account details or login credentials (username and password).

This type of activity where fraudsters gather credentials to use later is referred to in the industry as ‘credential harvesting’ and was prevalent throughout the global lockdown.


David Bullock, executive general manager of technology and operations at ASB says customers should remain vigilant for scammers.

“Financial crime has the potential to create detrimental outcomes for both New Zealand’s economy and society. ASB is determined to play our part in combating it wherever we can, but when it comes to keeping your accounts safe, it is imperative for customers to remain vigilant too”, says David Bullock, executive general manager of technology and operations at ASB.

“Especially as credential harvesting, where fraudsters try to gain access to sensitive information, increased during lockdown and is expected to result in even more scam and fraud activity in the months to come”.


“Customer security is of the utmost importance to the bank and to this end it has continued to invest in activities that create positive outcomes for the overall wellbeing of New Zealand”, says Bullock. For example, ASB has invested in cutting-edge technology and is the first bank in New Zealand to partner with Feedzai to deploy a real-time machine learning-based fraud detection system. “Using machine learning to accurately detect fraud means it reduces the risk, as well as making it less likely to decline genuine transactions.”

“We also have a handy page of tips and tricks on our website”, says Bullock.


Only do online shopping on websites with secure browsers (web addresses will start with “https”).


Here, scammers use a fake identity to gain trust, often using photos taken from the internet. Exchanges can go on for a while before the scammer starts asking for money for airfares, business ventures, hospital treatments or work contracts, concocting a story as to why they can’t access their own funds. Often, victims are so emotionally involved, they just want to help the person who they feel that they have become close to.


This is where expensive electronic items such as laptops or iPhones are sold on online marketplaces by fake companies. They then pretend to have goods or services for sale, but once they receive payment they don’t follow through with the deal. If you are selling high value items on Facebook or TradeMe, don’t just rely on screenshots for proof of payment – always make sure funds are showing as available in your account before releasing items for sale.


When someone calls you (claiming to be from a company you know) and tries to get access to your computer or asks for personal information over the phone. Hang up immediately! If you are unsure whether it’s a scam, contact that organisation using a phone number or email available on their official website. Don’t use the contact details given by that person.


Email hacking is when an unauthorised person has access to or manipulates an email account. The hacker will often spend time becoming familiar with the user account – business or personal, and will send emails requesting payment to another account or payments for invoices. No one is safe from this email scam – schools, professional trusts, commercial companies and individuals have all been targeted. Remember that new payee details or changes received via email need to be verified by your financial institution over the phone, especially when it comes to larger amounts.


Be cautious of any unexpected investment offers. We recommend you seek independent professional advice before taking any action. Visit the Financial Markets Authority website – they are a government organisation and have information on investments and scams.


  • Never give out online usernames and passwords and never write them down – if you need a prompt, write down clues rather than the password itself. Never save passwords in your browser.
  • Use passwords that are not easily guessed or used elsewhere and are longer than eight characters.
  • Make sure your antivirus and security software are secure and up to date.
  • Keep an eye on your accounts for any irregularities – if you don’t recognise transactions, you should contact your bank immediately.
  • Be careful who you share private information with.
  • Use two-factor authentication for online security, requiring you to access your accounts with two different tools.
  • For your debit or credit cards, use a PIN that’s hard to guess and select different ones for each card. Don’t share your PIN with anyone and sign new cards immediately. Never email your credit card number.
  • Never use an ATM or eftpos terminal that looks like it’s been tampered with and hide your PIN when using an ATM.
  • Only do online shopping on websites with secure browsers (web addresses will start with “https”), and don’t use public Wi-Fi networks for buying online or banking. Be wary of unusual links.
  • Don’t overshare on social media – keep in mind that anyone can access your information. Employ your social media site’s privacy settings and always log out of your account when using a public computer.
  • Beware of giving out your information to mobile phone apps. Only install apps from official app stores and only give a new app access to your contacts, camera, microphone or location when necessary.
  • Use the security functions on your phone and keep your apps up to date.

For more information on keeping your accounts safe, please visit asb.co.nz.

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