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 spot the different types of scams. Scammers are using more and more sophisticated ways to try and get your money or personal details.

Warning signs to watch out for

A scammer may:

  • contact you unexpectedly
  • be over-familiar and over-friendly with you
  • offer you a deal that’s too good to be true
  • ask you to pay up-front for something, eg a tax refund, or claiming a prize or inheritance
  • ask for your personal details or bank account or credit card details
  • have vague contact details or give a mobile number only or a PO box number
  • ask you to make a quick decision
  • make grammar or spelling mistakes
  • tell you an offer has to be kept secret.

Phishing emails

If you receive an email (or instant message) from someone you don't know that directs you to sign into a website, this may be a phishing email – a scam email directing you to a fake website. When you click on this website. scammers will steal your account password or other confidential information. You could even land on a phishing website by mistyping a URL (web address).

If you're at all unsure about a website, never sign in. The safest thing to do is to close and then reopen your browser. Type the correct URL into your browser's URL bar to avoid being redirected to a fake site.
Often your guard is down when you receive an email from a company you've dealt with before. If you're not expecting an email, always be alert to a fake before clicking on any links or opening any attachments.


Psychological tactics

Often scammers may use clever psychological tactics so we don’t recognise a scam such as:

  • targeting common human vulnerabilities and family circumstances, eg the need for cash, loneliness or desire for a relationship
  • targeting human strengths such as respect for authority, good nature and the desire to help others
  • pretending to be respectable and professional to hide their real identities
  • using grooming tactics to build up trust and a relationship with the victim over time.

If you are cold-called by people or businesses – whether it's over the phone, through the post, by email, in person or on a social networking site – always consider the possibility that the approach may be a scam. Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to look for the warning signs, protect your personal data, report any scams and be alert to the fact that scams exist and are on the increase.

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

How to spot a scam

Read these clues on how to spot a:

  • fake document
  • fake email or website (phishing)
  • fake dating profile
  • fake investment opportunity

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Spotting a fake document

Documents are easily faked. Some will look just like the real thing but others might have warning signs, such as:

  • generic greetings
  • names of businesses or organisations that don't exist
  • mistakes with grammar and spelling
  • overly official or forced language
  • poor quality presentation.

Scammers can take company logos and graphics from websites and copy them onto documents.

Spotting a fake email or website (phishing)

It is easy for scammers to fake an official looking email, using the same logo and email design as the real company.

You may be able to tell an email or website isn’t genuine. Look out for:

  • the sender’s email address being similar but not identical to the company’s official email address
  • the email requiring you to take urgent action (to trick you into providing confidential information)
  • the website's address being slightly different to the genuine company's
  • a generic greeting (not your name)
  • any links to fake websites within the email. Never click on attachments. Move your mouse over the top of any URL in the email to see the hyperlinked address. If it is different to the URL address that is displayed in the link text, then it is a fake
  • poor spelling and grammar on the page
  • any requests for personal information or answers to security questions
  • messages informing you about winning lotteries or competitions you didn’t enter
  • requests for money to cover expenses, taxes or other fees
  • any threats or blackmail.

Spotting a fake dating profile

When you look at a new dating profile, warning signs of a fake profile include:

  • the photo doesn’t match their physical description or they’ve used a professional photo
  • they live overseas
  • their interests or characteristics (common things claimed by scammers include being Catholic, widowed and very smart)
  • poor spelling or grammar and which doesn’t matches their claimed background (eg work and education)
  • they want to communicate away from the dating site very quickly
  • they want to move into a serious relationship really quickly
  • they ask for money
  • their profile information is missing or incomplete.

Scammers often use fake photos they’ve found online. Check for other sources such as their Facebook page. See when this was created (it may be fake if created recently or at the same time as the dating profile).

Clues for spotting a fake investment

You may be being scammed when you are phoned or emailed by a stranger who:

  • offers advice on the share price of a particular company. It may not be addressed to you personally, and may even give the impression it was sent to you by mistake
  • does not have a New Zealand Financial Markets Authority (FMA) licence or says they do not need one
  • rings you many times and tries to keep you on the phone offering unsolicited advice on investments
  • says you need to make a quick decision or you will miss out on the deal Claims they are a professional broker or portfolio manager and sounds professional but is actually following a script.
  • uses a name or claims to be associated with a reputable organisation to gain credibility eg NASDAQ, Bloomberg
  • offers you glossy prospectuses, brochures, share certificates or receipts or directs you to a slick website
  • invites you to attend a free seminar, with high fees to attend any further sessions. The scammer, posing as the promoter, may offer you a loan to cover both the cost of your attendance at the additional seminars and investments
  • promises a quick and easy way to 'unlock' your superannuation early.

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.
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 to find out more.

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 governmental agency and they want you to play along with a ‘sting’ operation.

Report a scam

Report scams 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, 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 for more guidance.

Common scams

Seminar scams

An advertisement or seminar makes claims such as ‘risk-free investment’, ‘be a millionaire in three years’ or ‘get-rich quick’.

Recovery scams

You may be the victim of a scam that is well publicised. You are then contacted by someone who claims that they have already recovered substantial amounts of money on behalf of other victims. They invite you to ‘join’ them for the recovery for an upfront fee payment.

Pyramid scam

You see an advertisement online from a financial adviser promising high returns for low capital risk. You are interested and get all the information sent to you. Friends have also invested in his fund. The advisor relies on referrals from clients to fund his pyramid scheme to cheat investors over 10 years. Eventually the pyramid scheme falls over and you find out you have lost your investment. The investment adviser is investigated and charged with various offences.