The number of banking scams is accelerating at a worrying rate, according to the banking ombudsman.
Ombudsman Nicola Sladden says new and more sophisticated scams were a key factor behind a 43 percent rise in the number of customer complaints in the year ended June, on the year earlier, with most being phishing or investment scams.
Nearly a third of all complaints formally investigated by the office of the ombudsman were about scams, with an average loss of $57,000 and costing New Zealanders more than $200 million a year.
"To slow this trend, the banking sector, along with other organisations, must take a more coordinated and unified approach to the problem," Sladden says.
"One immediate way to beat some scams would be to introduce confirmation of payee technology. Banks are investing in better systems and security all the time, but this would be a game changer - as in the United Kingdom know and as consumers in Australia are beginning to discover."
Sladden says the best way for people to avoid being scammed was to keep their banking password and other information secret and beware of clicking on any online links.
She says there had been an increase in sophisticated unauthorised payment scam cases in which customers were duped into entering their banking credentials into fake websites.
"In one of the cases highlighted in our annual report, the customer genuinely believed she was giving payment authorisation codes to the bank, and there was nothing suspicious about the website that would have alerted a reasonable customer to the fact it was a fake.
"We did not consider she had acted negligently or breached the terms and conditions of her account by entering her details and the codes from her bank into the fake website."
That was an important decision in helping scam victims recover from their losses.
"Banks must reimburse unauthorised online transactions unless customers have been dishonest or negligent, breached the terms and conditions of their accounts or cards, or failed to take reasonable steps to protect their banking," Sladden says.