Te Tari Taiwhenua, the Department of Internal Affairs has published its first annual spam and scam digital messaging report.
The Digital Messaging Transparency Report details outcomes of spam and scam investigations undertaken by the agency, including volumes and nature and investigative processes in the period from January 2020 to December 2022.
Of note, the report outlined the effects and aftermath of a largescale malware attack called FluBot that reached Aotearoa in late 2020.
"In the first nine days of the attack in 2021, we received over 114,000 reports to our 7726 SMS spam reporting service," DIA reported.
While the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the nature of scams arriving in the inboxes of Kiwis, DIA said FluBot had by far had the greatest impact on the spam and scam environment in the last three years.
SMS text message and email were the most common delivery formats for spam and scams with ever-changing themes that can be informed by current events.
The pandemic, for example, saw an uptick in reports of delivery scams and an exploitation of more people being at home waiting for packages to arrive.
“As detailed in the report, complaints to DIA of harmful spam and scams continue to rise every year," said Jared Mullen, director of digital safety at DIA.
“For many of the reports we receive, a New Zealander has experienced the harsh effects of clicking a bad link or falling victim to a financially motivated scam."
DIA regulates the Unsolicited Electronic Messaging Act 2007, which means it investigates New Zealand-based reports of harmful and nuisance unsolicited electronic messages, or spam and scams.
"Another way we seek to prevent harm to New Zealanders from spam and scams is to help people understand trends in the environment, what to look out for, and what we can do to help."
By sharing information, DIA hoped to illustrate the role it plays in tackling the ever-growing issue and to raise awareness and improve prevention of harm.