We are encouraging New Zealanders to take a moment and stop and think ‘is this for real?’ when they’re contacted unexpectedly and being asked for personal information.

Help us minimise the impact of scams by sharing this page with your friends and family.

Scams related to COVID

Scams and frauds aren't likely to go anywhere any time soon while there is a profit to be made. COVID-19 has provided scammers the chance to take advantage of New Zealanders vulnerability. Scammers are getting smarter and scams are getting harder to spot, so before handing over any money or personal details, stop and think – 'is this for real?'

Below are some common scam types we are seeing during COVID-19.

Scammers have created fake online stores claiming to sell products that don't exist. Do your homework to make sure the company exists before you hand over your hard earned money.

They are also tricking consumers into delivery scams where they contact people at random in the hope that people will submit personal details and make payment in order to track and trace fake packages.

Scammers are presenting job and employment offers to work from home or set up and invest in a 'business opportunity'. It might appear to be a promising a job with high salary or large investment return but can be a front for money laundering. People recruited into offers of this kind can - unknowingly or unwillingly become a money mule – transferring illegally acquired money on behalf of a criminal. There are serious consequences for money mules so remember, if the offer is too good to be true, it probably is.

In a similar way that people are looking at alternative options to replace income, New Zealanders are also looking at alternative opportunities to invest money for higher return on investment. When handing your money over it is important to; know who you are dealing with, know if the investment is legitimate, and to ensure that you are not giving away any personal or financial information.

Romance and dating scams are nothing new. However, the COVID-19 has again provided an environment for scammers and fraudsters to thrive. These scam types often involve being contacted by someone new pretending to have interest in you without a genuine love interest. Always be suspicious, especially as soon as money becomes involved.

Top Tips to protect against scams

Watch this video for advice on ways you can keep yourself safe from scams.

SCENE 1

Man and woman in a living room. A woman is doing; a man is sitting on an armchair with a laptop on his knees. Chill out music in the background.

Man: Hey, babe. Check out this e-mail. I've just won a car, ha ha. I can't believe it.

Woman: Really?

Man: Yeah, looks legit. Party music playing

Woman: Are you sure about that?

A man hiding behind the armchair appears.

Tip man: Woah, woah, wait a second! Music stops playing.

This is a classic scam scenario. If something sounds too good to be true it's a good chance there's.

So, tip number one for staying safe from scams is: Be suspicious

Chill out music plays again

Woman: I'd double-check that if I were you, Daryl.

Man: Yeah, good thinking.

SCENE 2

A sales man is in an elderly woman’s house. Both are standing. Quiet music is playing in a background.

Man: Yes, ma'am. This will be worth your while. This power special is the deal of a lifetime.

Woman: Ah, will it be right for me?

Man: You won't regret this. Now all you have to do is sign here.

Woman: What's it all about?

Man: Oh this, this is all just technical stuff. No one cares about that.

Woman: But I would say the holiday looks lovely

Music stops playing. The tip man appears again.

Tip man: Wait right there. Don't get taken for a ride. Tip number two when it comes to scams is: Don't engage even if it means being impolite.

Music starts playing again.

Tips man: Go get him, Granny.

SCENE 3

A man is sitting with his laptop on a couch. A warning sound starts flashing. He closes his laptop.

His mobile phone rings.

Sam: Hello?

Woman: Hi, is that Sam?

Sam: Yes this is Sam.

Woman: Hi, you seem having some trouble with your computer and I can help you with that. We just need your login and password.

Sam: Ah, ok.

Woman: We also just need your credit card number and we'll have you up and running in no time.

Sam: Yeah, sure. It's ehm 4455...

The tip man rides into view on a chair.

Tip man: Hang on a second. If you're in a fishy situation there's a good chance someone else has been, too. Scam tip number three is: Do your research.

Sam: Exactly who am I talking to?

END SCENE:

Tip man: Just remember if you're ever in a scenario where you're telling yourself wait a sec...

Wait a sec!

Be suspicious.

Don't engage.

And do your research.


Watch this video to see how scammers can use email to hack into your bank account.

Email scam example video(external link)  — YouTube


How to recognise a scam

It’s very likely to be a scam if:

  • somebody contacts you unexpectedly - always question uninvited approaches in case it is a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.
  • you are being pressured to make a quick decision that will cost you – a genuine bank or trusted organisation would never do this.
  • they ask you for money or personal information - a genuine business, bank or government department will never contact you to ask for your PIN, password or to move money to another account.
  • you are being asked to click on a link in an unexpected email or text – you could be giving access to your personal and financial details.

Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it generally is.

What to do

Never click on the links or attachments in e-mails and text messages that ask you to login or verify your password. Instead, go to the legitimate website and log in from there.

Always double-check if a person, offer, or company is legitimate before providing any details or payments. Contact the company from their official website address, rather than using the information they provide.

Ask somebody for help or even for a second opinion – do they think it’s real?

Where to get help

Netsafe

Helps New Zealanders stay safe online, with expertise in online bullying, harassment and abuse under the Harmful Digital Communications Act and all types of scams.

netsafe.org.nz(external link)

CERT NZ

Supports individuals and organisations affected by online incidents, such as online scams or cyber security incidents. Helps people recognise and avoid online scams and fraud.

0800 CERT NZ (0800 2378 69)

cert.govt.nz(external link)

NZ Police

Liaises with overseas agencies. Prevents, investigates and prosecutes crime within our communities.

In an emergency, call 111

police.govt.nz(external link)

Victim Support

24/7 support, information, and advice for victims of crime.

0800 842 846

victimsupport.org.nz(external link)

Banking Ombudsman

Helps resolve and prevent banking problems, including scam-related issues.

0800 805 950

help@bankomb.org.nz

Commission for Financial Capacity

Support and education for helping kiwis get savvy on scams.

(09) 356 0052

cffc.org.nz(external link)

office@cffc.org.nz

Financial Markets Authority

Takes investment scam reports. Provides a warnings list and information on how to avoid scams.

0800 434 566

fma.govt.nz(external link)

Department of Internal Affairs

Regulates the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007, which prohibits the sending of spam.

dia.govt.nz(external link)

info@antispam.govt.nz

The Commerce Commission

Enforces the Fair Trading Act, which prohibits misleading conduct and unfair selling practices by those 'in trade' in New Zealand.

comcom.govt.nz(external link)

Serious Fraud Office

Investigates and prosecutes serious financial crime, including bribery and corruption.

sfo.govt.nz(external link)