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Over half of New Zealand adults surveyed concerned about AI shopping scams

Posted on 3-Nov-2023 10:42 | Filed under: News

Over half of New Zealand adults surveyed concerned about AI shopping scams

The increasing popularity of generative AI (genAI) tools has unlocked new fears for Kiwis, according to a global study by Norton, a leading Cyber Safety brand from Gen.


Over half (54 per cent) of New Zealanders surveyed said they are concerned about artificial intelligence (AI) shopping scams this holiday season and 64 per cent of respondents believe there are more scams around the holiday season than any other time of the year. Furthermore, 61 per cent of Kiwis are worried that older loved ones will fall for bogus sales offers. Forty-four per cent are concerned about falling for a sophisticated shopping scam themselves.


These findings are revealed against the backdrop of the latest loss figures. The average amount lost by New Zealanders through holiday scams stands at NZD700.72, with the highest reported loss being NZD20,000.


Of the 27 per cent of Kiwi respondents who reported being targeted by a scam during a previous holiday season, 37 per cent fell victim—accounting for 10 per cent of all respondents. Of these, 50 per cent were scammed on a social media platform, 40 per cent on a third-party website, 24 per cent by text/SMS, 24 per cent over the phone, and 20 per cent by email.


The most common scams experienced by Kiwis were online shopping scams (56 per cent), followed by charity scams (30 per cent), and postal delivery scams (21 per cent).


“The popularity of genAI took off globally this year, and along with that, the sophistication of online scams increased. Kiwis should be vigilant and consider using smart tools to help protect themselves and loved ones against scams,” says Mark Gorrie, Managing Director Norton APAC.


“On the other side of the coin, AI can be used for good, to bolster cybersecurity defences. Norton launched Genie this year – a free, easy-to-use, trusted AI-powered advisor that helps people stay ahead of highly convincing scams. Genie gives guidance on whether a message, email, link, or post is potentially a scam and suggests what to do next. Its AI algorithms are trained on millions of scam messages and red flags,” adds Gorrie.


The survey also revealed that to obtain gifts this holiday season, Kiwi online shoppers are willing to invest extra time and resources and take actions that could potentially put their security at risk:


  • 31 per cent said they would spend 3 hours or more hunting down a gift online
  • 15 per cent said they would meet up with a stranger to retrieve a gift organised online
  • 12 per cent said they would spend $50 more than the gift’s market value
  • 10 per cent said they would share their personal information to get the right gift
  • 9 per cent said they would click on a social media ad or email claiming to have the gift.

Alarmingly, a small number still said they would even consider purchasing from a questionable website (5 per cent) or buying from a questionable third-party seller (5 per cent), and 2 per cent said they would be willing to try to find a high-demand gift on the dark web.


“While it is tempting to go above and beyond to secure an attractive gift, Kiwis need to be careful. Consider using online tools to help screen online threats. Norton Secure Browser is a free search engine with advanced cybersecurity features that keep your searches and online interactions private and untraced. It also blocks malicious websites and helps stop phishing attempts by preventing people from downloading potentially malicious content or accessing dangerous links,” says Gorrie.


To help New Zealanders stay safer this holiday season, Norton also recommends taking these key precautions while shopping online:


  • Stick to reputable retailers: Check seller ratings from reputable sources. Preferably purchase from retailers with a physical address, a customer service phone number, and a professional-looking website without obvious errors like spelling mistakes.
  • Pay through a third-party payment provider such as PayPal so scammers can’t get hold of your bank details. Alternatively, pay using a credit card.
  • Don’t complete purchases on public Wi-Fi, OR, use a virtual private network (VPN) when shopping online: Your standard data connection is more secure than connecting through a public Wi-Fi router. If you do want to make a purchase while connected to unsecured Wi-Fi, a VPN can protect you from man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • If you receive a text message about an upcoming parcel delivery, stop and think: Legitimate text messages are usually sent from a short code rather than a normal mobile phone number. If you’re unsure whether a message is legitimate, contact the business through established channels.

Avoid suspicious links from social media ads or unfamiliar email addresses: Chasing a bargain? Don’t click on suspicious links even when the deal is attractive. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.