Protect yourself from
fraud and scams

When it comes to fraud and scams, knowledge is power

Become a real-life superhero by arming yourself with the information you need to fight fraud and keep yourself, your family and your money safe.

Fraudsters are real. They are out there every day. They will target you online, over the phone, by mail or in person.

They will target anyone. Thousands of New Zealanders lose millions of dollars to fraudsters every year. All kinds of people are targeted, from teenagers to grandparents, uni students to senior corporate officers. The impact of fraud on families and businesses can be devastating.

Report it! The best thing you can do is to report the fraud, whatever the amount, to the appropriate authorities. Don’t be embarrassed – you're helping prevent others being caught in the same trap.

Why are frauds and scams a problem?

Research NZ states 72% of New Zealanders have been the target of some kind of scam, either online or by telephone. Scams are increasing in number and sophistication – it’s big business. 

Scammers are smart and unregulated. If one scam or tactic doesn’t work, they simply change the game plan or set new rules. 

 

Who is vulnerable?

Most of us can fall victim to a fraud, especially when we are going through something challenging. Some of you may have already been a victim of a scam and not even realised. 

There are so many different types of scams, and they all target people in different ways. They are becoming more and more complex, so it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. 

Our The Little Black Book of Scams has what you need to know about typical scams, tips on how to recognise them, how to avoid them and what to do if you have fallen for one of them. 

10 ways to keep you and your loved ones safe from fraud 

We’re all at risk. Here are our top tips to avoid being scammed. Stop and think: Is this for real? 

  1. Only click on links if you’re 100% certain they are legitimate. Always check the link by hovering over address with your mouse, and the return email address, too.  
  2. Remember that banks and other companies will not ask for your passwords or personal details by email, text or phone. If you receive a request like this, delete it or hang up. 
  3. Just hang up! Cold calls with investment offers are illegal in New Zealand.  
  4. If you’re suspicious of any caller, hang up and call the official number of the organisation they say they represent to check if the call was genuine. 
  5. If you’re not sure who you’re talking to, whether online, over the phone or at the door – end the conversation and look them up to confirm that they are who they say they are. 
  6. Make your passwords unique and hard to guess. We recommend using a password manager. 
  7. Never send money to anyone you don’t know or haven’t met in person. 
  8. Be suspicious when the love interest you met online wants to use your bank account for receiving and forwarding money. 
  9. Avoid giving personal details that could be used to impersonate you. 
  10. If you think you are being scammed, stop all contact and don’t send further payments.  
These are all red flags. Remember, legitimate companies or government agencies will never ask for your passwords.

Here are telltale signs you’re being targeted – watch out whenever you’re: 

  • Contacted out of the blue 
  • Asked for your password 
  • Asked to verify your account or details  
  • Asked for remote access to your device 
  • Being pressured to make a decision quickly 
  • Asked to pay in an unusual way. 

Scammers' tactics

1

‘You’ll make a lot of money from this opportunity.’ (Ghost riches)

It’s important to remember – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

2

‘You can trust me.’ (Source credibility)

Scammers are often very good at acting as a close friend – they can build a strong connection that may feel like friendship. Once they have gained your trust, unfortunately you’re in a more vulnerable position. This isn't to say ‘Don't trust strangers’, but instead, ‘Don’t trust strangers with your money or personal information’. 

3

‘Everyone is doing it.’ (Social proof)

For many of us, if everyone is doing it we assume it must be good! This isn’t always the case. In many cases, the statement itself may not be truthful. A scammer will say whatever they can to convince you to hand over your personal information or your money. 

4

‘Hurry, time is running out.’ (Scarcity)

The effect of this simple sentence can put us into a panicked mindset, making us more vulnerable to making a quick decision that doesn’t necessarily align with our goals. We might skip some of the research and the gut–feel.  

If you don’t have time to research and ask questions, it might be best to let it go. Better to stay safe than to lose your money to a scam. 

5

‘You’re getting a really good deal.’ (Comparison)

There are a number of sneaky ways to encourage you to buy more – marketing 101. One way is to emphasise how much of a good deal you’re getting. If you’re shown a similar product or service for a much higher price, the lower price begins to sound reasonable in comparison. 

6

‘Do this for me as your friend.’ (Friendship)

We all want to support our friends, right? Always be careful about giving your friends money. If a friendship is formed based on an investment opportunity, it’s important to know your ‘friend’ well, and to protect yourself from financial or business harm as much as possible. 

Fraud hurts documentary

Fraud Hurts is the first film to be made by two fraud-fighting agencies telling victims’ stories. Produced by CFFC in association with the Serious Fraud Office, it premiered at the International Fraud Film Festival on November 14, 2019, as part of a free public session to promote fraud awareness.

Watch Video

Where to go for help

There are a few places you can go, depending on the type of scam or fraud you're dealing with. Here are some of your options.

Help and information

Reporting an online scam

Netsafe is NZ's independent, non-profit online safety expert.

Netsafe
netsafe.org.nz
 
0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)

Helping older parents or friends who are being scammed

Age Concern New Zealand provides free confidential advice and support for older people and their families who have been scammed or financially abused. 

They can also help you connect with social groups and activities near you. Contact one of the national network of 33 Age Concern branches.

Age Concern NZ
ageconcern.org.nz

Avoiding investment scams

The FMA has more information on how to spot scam warning signs and deal with problems. You can also find out if the investment provider is registered. 

Financial Markets Authority
fma.govt.nz
 
0800 434 567

Reporting a cyber security problem

CERT NZ is your first port of call when you need to report a cyber security problem. They support businesses, organisations and individuals affected by cyber security incidents.

CERT
cert.govt.nz 
0800 CERT NZ (0800 2378 69)

Someone stealing your identity

IDCare is Australia and NZ's national identity and cyber support service. They help individuals reduce the harm from compromise and misuse of their identity information.

ID Care
idcare.org

Receiving spam

Report spam to DIA, so they can investigate and take action where necessary.

Department of Internal Affairs
dia.govt.nz
Text Mobile SPAM to 7726

Being a confident consumer

Find out what to know and do when purchasing a product or service in NZ.

Consumer Protection
consumerprotection.govt.nz 
0508 4 CONSUMER (0508 426 678)

Learning more about scams

How to recognise, avoid and take action against scams, protect personal information, and prevent identity theft both online and offline.

Scamwatch
consumerprotection.govt.nz/general-help/scamwatch
 or facebook.com/FraudInfo

More resources

The Little Black book of Frauds and Scams is a great resource - share it with your friends and loved ones to help prevent frauds and scams. Knowledge is power!

A money mule is someone who transfers illegally acquired money on behalf of a criminal – unknowingly or willingly. 

Coping with the Aftermath of Fraud has some helpful tips to get through, if you or someone you know has been victim to fraud.

Don’t know where to start?

Check out our 6 steps Get Sorted programme to get you on track.

Head to the 6 steps