How do I know when I’m being scammed?
The people who operate scams often develop sophisticated ways to fool you into believing they are a legitimate organisation who is contacting you for legitimate reasons. This might include developing a fake website or organisational letterheads that look like the real thing.
Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. You should be suspicious of:
- anyone calling, emailing or texting you on behalf of a Government agency, demanding payment or threatening deportation.
- anyone calling or emailing you to ask for your PIN or Internet banking password. Banks will never do this.
- any door to door salesperson or charity donations collector who is not wearing clothing or other items that identify them as such.
- anyone who calls you unexpectedly, claiming to be from Microsoft or your Internet provider and offering to fix your computer or internet problems – especially if this service requires you to give them access to your computer.
- any bargain that sounds too good to be true
- any person whom you have only met online, who starts talking about their problems and suggesting that only you can help them
- any correspondence that tells you you’ve won a lottery, if you never bought a lottery ticket in the first place
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What can I do to protect myself from scams and fraud?
Your best defence is to be aware that scams exist and take some basic precautions:
- Know who you are dealing with - before doing business with an unfamiliar company, do some research on them so you can be sure they are reputable.
- Be careful about who you give your personal details to, as someone could use this information to steal your identity. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social media sites, as scammers can use this against you.
- Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails – delete them.
- Practice good computer security (e.g. use good passwords, update your software ) – you’ll find good advice on this on NetSafe’s Security Central website
- Beware of any requests for your details or money. Never send money or give credit card details, online account details or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t know or trust.
- Check your banking and credit card statements regularly and look out for unexpected or unusual account transactions.
- Don’t let anyone pressure you into making a decision quickly, whether it’s about investing, purchasing or donating. Scammers try to get you to act quickly because most scams are often obvious if you only stop to think.
You can read more about the different kinds of scams by visiting Consumer Protection (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment)’s ScamWatch web pages.
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What should I do if I suspect that someone is trying to scam me?
Do not open suspicious texts, pop-up windows or emails – delete them. If you receive a suspicious email, letter, fax or phone call, try directly contacting the organisation which the email, letter, fax or phone call is supposed to be from, and ask them if the communication is genuinely from them.
You can also check online whether it is a known scam. Reported scams are recorded on:
You can also trying doing an Internet search on the name of the organisation supposedly contacting you, followed by the word “scam”.
If someone is trying to scam you stop all contact with them immediately. Block the scammer if you have been scammed online. Don’t reply to emails or letters that scammers have sent you.
You can report a scam on NetSafe's website, The Orb or report it to the Department of Internal Affairs’ Electronic Messaging Compliance team (by forwarding an online scam to firstname.lastname@example.org or a scam text to 7726 .
If you believe you have become a victim of a New Zealand-based scam, report it to the Police.(Unfortunately, if the scam originated overseas, New Zealand law is unlikely to be able to help you and there is very little chance of getting your money back).
If you gave out your personal banking details you’ll also need to tell your bank.