A Rotorua woman says she wants to warn others after her bank account was hacked by a "lowlife" who made several online shopping purchases over the long weekend.
Lyn Maner said she felt "angry and violated" after discovering on Saturday her bank account details had been accessed by someone who made $755 worth of purchases.
Maner said she was at her neighbour's home for a doggy playdate when she made the discovery while chatting about possibly opening another account with her bank.
"I was checking my cheque account balance on my mobile phone and saw it was only $51, which I knew was wrong as my payday was only three days earlier."
Further checks revealed there had been three separate unauthorised $250 purchases on a store's website and a $5 purchase elsewhere made that day, she said.
"I thought to myself 'what the heck is going on, how could some random criminal or lowlife be able to access my ATM card details, including the three-digit security code?'
"I immediately blocked access to my bank card using my mobile phone and I then rang [the] bank to inform them about what had happened.
"Fortunately, my bank card was still in my purse at home as I was worried there may have been someone making other purchases all around the town."
Maner said the bank immediately cancelled her card and its special investigation team was looking into the matter.
"My bank explained that the hacker must have obtained my bank card details from a business [with which] I had earlier made an online shopping purchase. But not necessarily [the store] which I last had dealings with about 10 years ago."
Maner said the investigation process could take four to six weeks as she was told there were other complainants in the queue.
"I've been told if they can verify these were unauthorised purchases and can trace the hacker source, I may get my stolen money back. But there are no guarantees."
She also called the store's head office to report the thefts and was told the three $250 purchases were possibly gift cards, which they would try to cancel "which is great as I didn't want them to be out of pocket too".
Maner said surviving on $51 for a week and a half - until she is paid again - has been "pretty tough" and stressful.
"Because of these thefts, I had to cancel a couple of appointments, including a hair appointment and defer paying for a new bed I had ordered to be delivered.
"I want people to be aware this could happen to anyone, at any time. I want to tell people to be careful. I feel I am a careful person, yet I still got my account hacked.
"Something needs to be done to protect us as everyone I have spoken to has told me that it happens all the time and more frequently these days. We all store more of our money in banks and trust banks and online organisations will protect us and keep our bank account details secure."
Maner said she did not shop online much "yet some random criminal managed to steal my money which makes me feel very angry and violated".
She was disappointed there was no system in place to protect people from such scams.
"It also makes me feel very vulnerable and a bit dubious about making online transactions in the future," she said.
A Netsafe spokeswoman said the organisation received "numerous complaints" of scammers charging bank cards without account holders' permission or knowledge.
"Unfortunately, it is hard to get your money back, especially, if the scammer is overseas as it is difficult to trace the people responsible," she said.
"Our advice is to immediately notify your bank of these charges. If they have been added to a credit card you can apply to your bank for a chargeback."
Most banks have a 60-day limit from the time of purchase for you to lodge a chargeback request but not all chargeback requests will be successful.
The best way to ensure there were no further charges added is to have the card cancelled and reissued, the NetSafe spokesperson said.
"In our experience, these charges are likely to be the result of having shared your credit card information with a scammer who has then used them to register your details with paid services online."
The spokeswoman said receiving emails or other messages in the last few months claiming someone had won a prize or needed to confirm a parcel delivery was "likely how this happened".
"This can also include scam posts that claim you can purchase appliances such as televisions for a few dollars."
The spokeswoman said when people made online purchases, they should lock for a padlock symbol in the browser window and only enter your credit/debit card details on a webpage that began with 'https://'. The 's' stood for secure and meant payment information was encrypted.
However, people still needed to make checks that businesses were legitimate before making any kind of payment.
The business the scammer shopped at was approached for comment, as was Maner's bank and the Banking Ombudsman's office.
PROTECTING YOUR INFORMATION
Keep your personal information secure and think carefully before entering your details online, or giving them to someone. Protect information that can be used to access your accounts, build a fake online presence or impersonate you including:
• Login details and passwords to any online account including banking, email, social media and trading sites
• Bank account and credit card details
• Phone number
• Birth date
• Personal information linked to the security questions on your online accounts
• Driver's licence
• Passport details
Source - Netsafe