Report a scam

Report a scam to Netsafe.org.nz (external link) or 0508 638 723. They will direct you to the organisation best able to investigate or advise you on various types of scams or frauds.

How to avoid employment, rental, holiday, health and charity scams, and what to do if you have been scammed.

Beware of these other common scams

Scammers are often based overseas where New Zealand laws don’t apply. Watch out for the following common scams.

Technical support scams

These scams involve a phone call or a pop-up chat screen on your computer from someone claiming to be a technical support staff member from a well-known computer software company or ISP provider (names like Microsoft, Spark, Vodafone and Chorus are commonly used). The scammer will request remote access to your computer in order to fix an error or virus, or give you a free security assessment. Once they get remote access they can then record and use your internet banking passwords, find and take your credit card details, and use your personal information for identity fraud.

Employment and visa scams

Online employment scams involve offers to work from home or invest in a business opportunity. These scams are promoted via spam emails or online advertisements. Most of these ads are not real job offers. Many of them are fronts or gateways for illegal scams such as:

  • money-laundering, eg mystery shopper adverts where you are overpaid and asked to wire the extra funds to a different account usually overseas
  • pyramid-selling schemes with poor quality, overpriced products that are hard to sell
  • upfront-payment fraud, eg employment seminars and visa schemes.

Holiday scams

Cheap holiday deals: These deals are never what they seem. It pays to do your homework. Make sure holiday and travel deals are genuine, so that you don’t end up disappointed – and still at home. Also watch out for free holiday vouchers where all you have to do is pay a nominal fee using your credit card details and you’ll receive some fake vouchers. Being scammed by fake visa sites online is common too.

Major event deals: Scammers will often take advantage of major events like the Olympics or the Rugby World Cup. It's a good idea to be particularly alert to potential scams if you are booking travel or accommodation for a major event.

Health and medical scams

The health and weight loss industry is a booming business. Scammers offer you ‘miracle’ health products to cure a problem such as arthritis, diabetes, or cancer, or to help you lose weight. The seller often promises a no-risk, money-back guarantee or a free trial. Often these claims are not based on scientific evidence and may be illegal under the Fair Trading Act.

Rental scams

Fake rental properties: Fake rentals may be placed on a genuine rental property website. You are given the address or some photos. After paying a deposit in advance you find out it’s a scam.

Fake flatmates: In this scam, fake flatmates send you money by cheque or bank transfer in response to an advert for flatmates. It is more than you asked for. The scammer then asks for a partial refund to be sent to another party acting as their agent. After you’ve refunded the money, you’ll find that the payment is invalid. The cheque has bounced or the transaction has been reversed.

Charity scams

Natural disasters are often the trigger for fake charity scams. Scammers asked for money after the earthquakes in Haiti and Christchurch. Scammers know that they can play on your emotions. Some scammers set up lotteries and sell tickets. They say the proceeds will be going to charity when only a tiny fraction of the money raised goes to the charity.

Keep up to date with scam alerts on our website or on our Facebook page (external link) .

 

How to stay safe

Checklist to avoid employment and visa scams

  • Use only well-known recruitment websites or reputable recruitment agencies.
  • Check out any job offer carefully, especially if it’s overseas. Enquire about visa costs and processes from the relevant visa authority. Ask for all details in writing.
  • Be wary of online adverts promoting the opportunity to work at home.
  • Be aware that glowing references about a potential employer may be fake. Type the company name plus ‘scam’ into an internet search engine. You may find reports from people who have been targeted by the same scam.
  • Never send money overseas, especially via a money wiring service, unless you completely know and trust the person or organisation.
  • Contact your bank if you’ve received money into your bank account that you believe to be illegal. If you have any problems, contact the Banking Ombudsman (external link) for guidance.

Checklist to avoid holiday scams

  • If somebody calls you out of the blue about holiday vouchers, ask for the details of the hotels or airlines that are involved. Contact the hotel, airline or voucher company directly to check whether the offers are real.
  • If you search for holidays and travel deals online, check their contact details independently before you make a booking.
  • Use a reputable website or letting agent for holiday rentals. Pay through the site. Try to pay a deposit and the balance on arrival if allowed.

Checklist to avoid health and medical scams

  • If you are worried about your health or your weight, see your GP or other health professionals, such as a dietician, to get medically safe advice or a supervised weight loss programme.
  • Avoid buying medicines online from overseas. These could be fake, expired or dangerous. New Zealand has tight laws on claims that can be made about health products and services.

See also:

Checklist to avoid rental scams

  • Be wary if the rent advertised is very cheap. Especially for a good location or during times of high rental demand. Verify the address using online maps. If the contact details are incorrect or the phone keeps ringing out, this is a scam.
  • Don’t pay a deposit without seeing the rental first. Get the landlord to meet you at the property. Check the keys work and keep a copy of a signed bond form and rental agreement.

Checklist to avoid charity scams

  • If a charity asks you for money, do some research. If it’s a well-known charity, email or phone them to check they’re really doing an appeal. If it’s a charity you haven’t heard of, contact Charities Services (external link) to make sure they’re genuine. You could also put their name into an internet search engine, followed by ‘scam’ to see if there are any reports of it being a scam.
  • Don’t let yourself be pressured or intimidated, or made to feel guilty. Genuine charities wouldn’t do this.

Cease all contact with the scammer

Often, if you are the victim of a scam you may be in denial. Once you’ve realised you are being scammed, stop all contact and avoid sending further payments.

Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram don’t allow nude images. If you have a complaint about a photo or video posted on these sites without your consent, you can contact the site administrator to request that they remove the offending material.

Block the scammer if you have been scammed online. Don’t reply to emails or letters that scammers have sent you.

Unfortunately, if you have been scammed, the chances of recovering your money are not good.

Contact your bank

If you are the victim of a financial scam or credit card scam, contact your bank immediately. They will have a policy in place to deal with fraud.

Read Resolve a problem for more information.

Do not fall for a ’recovery’ scam

Don't give anybody any more money on the promise that they will get your lost money back. It's just another scam. Don't believe them if they say they are from a government agency and they want you to play along with a ‘sting’ operation.

Report a scam

Report scams to Netsafe.org (external link) .nz or 0508 638 723. They will direct you to the organisation best able to investigate or advise you on various types of scams, frauds and spam messages. This information may be used to compile data and publish scam alerts based on the most commonly reported scams.


Next steps

If you are unable to resolve your issue directly, our Resolve It tool has information to help you take the next steps. These may include going to the Disputes Tribunal or District Court.

Resolve IT: Scams


Need more help?

Contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) Consumer helpline.

Common situations

Health scam

You see an advert online for health supplements to cure diabetes. These are endorsed by a ‘reputable’ clinician. Avoid these; they are a scam.

Charity scam

If you get a call from a telemarketer asking for donations to support a charity it may be a scam. If you give them money, there is a very good chance that most of the money will be kept by the telemarketers. Check to see if they are registered at Charities Services.

Rental scam

You see an advert online for a rental property that has attractive rental for the location on a genuine rental properties website. You phone the landlord and he states the property is available to rent, but you have to pay the deposit up front as he has had lots of enquiries. The photos look great. You pay the deposit and go to meet the agent the next day to pick up the keys at the address. When you turn up, there is no agent to meet you and you find the property is already rented out.