One in three Kiwis say they have been a victim of a scam or fraud and estimates put the losses at up to $500 million a year.

Research by Westpac Bank has found 90 per cent of people fear being scammed or defrauded and a third say they have been.

Tiffany Ryan, Westpac New Zealand's head of financial crime and security, said most scams go unreported.

"But there are industry estimates that New Zealanders may be losing up to $500 million each year to cybercrime and scams run through email, phone calls, text, mail, and door knocks."


Ryan said Westpac had seen the number of cases of attempted fraud increase on last year but she said the amount lost was decreasing because of increased protections and surveillance.

The bank said it had stopped more than $22 million of fraud in the last year.

Card fraud is the biggest issue and the research showed people are most worried about fraud when using their card online.

Nearly half (44 per cent) had concerns about that while 18 per cent were worried about showing their card details over the phone and 10 per cent when overseas.

Ryan urged people to be vigilant.

"They should monitor their bank statements regularly, as well as keep the bank notified of contact details changes, overseas trips or intended large purchases."

She said people also need to ensure they had up to date anti-virus software on their computer, make sure they did not click on links or respond to texts or emails and be careful not to make payments unless they were sure of the recipient.

The research has been released as part of International Fraud Awareness Week which runs from November 11 to 17.

It also revealed 30 per cent of those surveyed believed their parents were most at risk followed by their grandparents at 26 per cent.

"People are especially worried for the older generations. These scammers know how to pressure vulnerable people into quickly giving away confidential details such as PIN numbers, or into transferring money out of their accounts."

Ryan urged people to talk to family and friends about the risk and what they should do if someone they do not know calls them, emails or texts them or comes to their front door pretending to be from a certain company.

How to protect yourself against scam

• Monitor your bank statements regularly.

• Be suspicious of callers purporting to be from your bank, a utility company (Spark, Vodafone etc), or a government agency such as the Police or Inland Revenue, asking for your PIN number or your username or passwords for internet or telephone banking.

• Use privacy settings to limit who can see your information on social network sites – as these can be used to impersonate you or steal your identity.

• If you think you may have been targeted or fallen victim to a fraud or scam, contact your bank and let them know as soon as possible.

• Don't give out your PIN number or your personal info

• Don't respond to or click on a suspicious email or link

• Don't give out your bank account details