From this week scam education brochures and wallet cards will be available at Spark store around the country and dispatched with every new phone purchased from Spark. As older customers may be more targeted by scammers, brochures have also been placed in branches of Age Concern and Senior Net.
Spark Consumer and SME Channel Leader, Grant McBeath says Spark has been on a journey to reduce scamming activity and raise awareness for customers this year. “We wanted to take a proactive lead, so customers could identify the difference between our interactions with them versus a scammer and we felt we had a strong responsibility to empower our customers to recognise and act against scams.”
The brochure provides simple guidance on how to spot a scam, how to stay safe, and what to do if you think you have been scammed, including a six-step infographic. The brochure will also be translated in simplified Chinese, to assist the Chinese community which has recently been targeted by scammers posing to be from the Chinese embassy.
“This is one of many proactive initiatives put in place by Spark this year. In April we launched a webpage that lists real-time scam alerts, so customers could see the latest reports of scammers posing to be from Spark. Soon after we included a safety reminder on the bottom of customer bills, so they are frequently reminded to think twice,” says McBeath.
Spark has also trained frontline staff to be able to help front-foot scam education with customers on the shop floors - ensuring staff are prepared to discuss methods in which a customer can protect themselves and their family.
In 2017, $10.1M in scam and fraud losses were reported to Netsafe. Losses in 2018 have already exceeded last year, with over $12.5M in losses being reported in just the first quarter of 2018.
Netsafe Director of Technology and Partnerships, Sean Lyons is pleased to see Spark taking tangible steps, offering simple information for customers to understand a very complex problem.
“Scams are an increasing issue and cold calling scams in particular are still the most reported scam to Netsafe. With Spark being one of the largest digital services companies in New Zealand, it’s unsurprising that a large number of reports involve Spark. Scams are a complex issue that requires a co-ordinated approach across sectors, so it’s great to see Spark taking proactive steps to raise awareness of scams to help protect their customers.”
Cold call scams are consistently the most reported scam to Netsafe, with the online safety organisation receiving 3,719 reports and reported losses of $2.6M in 2017.
“It’s important to remember how sophisticated these scammers are, both in the technology they use and the stories they tell. While Spark plays an active role in limiting the number of scam communication out there, it’s not always possible to detect every single scam call so it’s critical for our customers to be vigilant,” says McBeath.
“If people remember one thing, it should be this: Spark will never contact you out of the blue and ask for your personal information like banking details or passwords. Avoid calling back international numbers you don’t recognise and if you are unsure if the call is genuine, the best thing you can do is hang up.”
Notes to the editor: