An Auckland man says his bank card was skimmed despite being home on lockdown and rarely leaving the house to buy anything.

It comes as Netsafe reported an about 10 per cent increase in online scams, mostly due to a pick-up in fraudulent Covid-19 schemes.

The most prominent coronavirus scams included websites set up to trick people into buying fake masks and safety gear, appeals to donate to a fake World Health Organisation response fund and blackmail threats to infect people with the virus.

Mt Albert man Nitin Bhaskar, meanwhile, said he was working at home this morning when ANZ Bank called him and - after verifying his identity - asked whether he had just made four purchases with his card.


Bhaskar had only paid an online bill, yet looking up his account he saw there had been four petrol purchases at different gas stations within 30 minutes, totalling just over $250.

Bhaskar immediately asked bank staff to cancel his card and was told it had likely been skimmed - a scam in which criminals clone a bank card by copying its magnetic strip while a camera records a person entering their pin number.

Bhaskar has no idea when he might have been skimmed.

"I've got my card with me and we are in lockdown, so last time I used my card was in a local dairy just a block away from home and before that at a Mt Eden pharmacy."

"The last time I used an ATM was about six months ago."

He said he was impressed by how quickly ANZ staff picked up on the fraudulent transactions, tipping they must have had an automated alert given it was unusual for someone to buy petrol from so many different stations in a short period of time.

Martin Cocker, chief executive of non-profit support group Netsafe, said it was hard to accurately measure scam numbers.

"However, scams are up about 10 per cent on average at the moment and about 10 per cent of our scam reports are linked to Covid-19," he said.


Netsafe had set up a dedicated Covid-19 page to help those worried about the influx of scams.

Cocker said most new scams were following a similar pattern to traditional online scams but using people's interest in the coronavirus as a hook.

However, some of the more creative scams included calls to donate to a fake World Health Organisation Covid-19 Response Fund, according to Government agency Cert NZ, which works to counter cybersecurity threats.

Another scam called on victims to pay a bitcoin ransom or risk their family being infected with coronavirus, while others had malware inserted into downloadable maps of the virus outbreak.

An ANZ Bank spokesman said his team had not seen an increase in fraud-related incidents, such as skimming and nor had the police.

However they had seen an increase in online scam attempts.

"With more people being vulnerable, isolated and under financial pressure, the Covid-19 environment is perfect for fraudsters and they are taking advantage of it," he said.

"We are aware of a number of different scams going around."

This included fraudsters making cold calls or sending automated voicemails, saying they were from Visa or ANZ and that they were reporting an unusual transaction on the customers bank card.

"The call recipient is asked to press 1 to be put through to the bank to discuss, at which point their personal and card details are requested," the spokesman said.

The banks had also had reports of fraudsters impersonating well-known organisations like ANZ or government agencies, and sending emails or text messages with attachments or links that claim to be Covid-19 related.

"Instead these emails actually contain malicious software."

ANZ had also heard of other scams, such as fake virus-related products, like face masks and vaccines, and investment and employment opportunities that are said to have arisen from the Covid-19 situation.

ANZ tips to protect you from scams

• Never disclose your banking passwords, Pins, security codes or personal information to anyone, even if they say they are from ANZ, Visa, Mastercard or the police

• Don't download or open attachments on your device that you are unsure about

• Protect your devices and accounts with strong passwords and keep all software up to date

• Stay vigilant when anyone contacts you out of the blue, especially with unusual or urgent requests