About scams and phishing

How to identify a scam

Many scams look genuine and sometimes it’s hard to tell that they’re not real. Learn how to identify scams so you can protect yourself and others from harm.

Read the signs

If the sender of the message:
  • is from an unknown or dubious source
  • is from a known contact but the message does not match how that person would normally talk to you
  • contains too many grammatical or spelling errors
  • is sent from a public domain such as Gmail, Yahoo, or Live but claims to be from a private business or well-known company
  • contacts you when you aren’t expecting it
  • asks for financial help (i.e. so they can pay debts or visit you)
  • gets your name wrong (i.e. refers to you as ‘My Dear’ or something generic)
  • says you need to claim money or prizes for a lottery or competition you never entered
  • says you have inherited money or possessions from someone you’ve never heard of
  • claims to be from a financial institution or a well-known entity and requests your personal information
  • includes a link, hover over the link with your mouse curser without clicking to see if the website address is accurate and relevant to the email you have received. If you’re not sure, don’t click on links in messages and never open an attachment.

If the above criteria fits your message then report, delete or mark as spam. Any offer that sounds too good to be true is!

If you are unsure, verify the message by independent means such as using known contact information. You can also try typing the name of the individual or business into your internet search engine and review the information available. 

If you have been a victim of a scam report the matter to the Police in the first instance and for support, please contact ID Care on 0800 201 415.

Common scams

Scammers will do anything to rip you off, so it’s important to be aware of the different kinds of scams circulating.

Phishing or banking scams

These scams attempt to look like a well-known bank or financial institution in their message and urge you to click on links and enter your bank account details, credit card information, password, passport information, home address, or even your IRD number.

Don’t click on links in phishing emails or TXT messages. Many of these links take you to fake websites. Typing in your details could result in your bank account being emptied by fraudsters. And your computer could become infected with a virus.

Banks tend not to contact customers by email or TXT asking them to confirm personal financial information. Call your bank and verify the authenticity of the message if you have doubts. Most banks have information on their websites about reporting phishing or banking scams.


From: Bank A [mailto: banka@admin.net]

Subject: Bank A Online Locked - Suspicious Activity

Dear Bank Customer,

Your Bank A Online has been locked and is waitting for your response. If you do not take further action your account status will change to “Blocked” in 24 hours and automaticlly update to “Closed” in 48 hours.

We found suspicious activity on your account and we need to confirm some transactions with you Bank A Customers Department <www.abc.net/sfdf68fd%_banka.php>

Hints it's a scam

  • Email address is wrong - it should end ‘@banka.co.nz’
  • Website link is wrong - it should link to ‘www.banka.co.nz’
  • It’s not addressed to an individual (“Bank Customer”)
  • It has spelling mistakes (“automaticlly”)
  • If the bank needs to contact you they will call or post a letter to you.

Job offer scams

If you receive an offer for a job you didn’t apply for - don’t believe a word of it. Scammers will do anything to get you to respond with your personal details. They tempt you with easy work for great pay and flexible hours.

If you are asked to deposit a cheque into your bank account and wire the money back to the sender or an alternative contact via a money transfer service* – don’t do it. You will be helping the scammer to launder money or you risk losing your own!

Genuine mystery shopper companies do not recruit by sending unsolicited emails or letters. They ask you to register with the store of interest, provide a profile and you will be contacted when work is available.

A genuine job offer will not require you to pay a fee to accept the offer.

*Many money transfer services are legitimate businesses but they are often used by scammers to make illegal transactions around the world.


Subject: Start Now, Immediate Opening(Part Time)

Greetings,A position is currently available for any individual in the UK&DE&AT who is interested in becoming a Secret shopper. 

All you needs to do is to register with us today by providing your details below and start shopping Evaluation! 

Full Name... Full Address ... Postcode.... Mobile/Home number (s)... Email Address...


Hints that it’s a scam

  • The recipient didn’t sign up as a mystery shopper.
  • The email requests the recipient’s personal information.
  • It contains spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Death threat scams

Death-threat scams, most commonly sent by email, are hoaxes designed to play on people’s fears and extract money from them.

We regularly receive complaints about threatening emails that people have received from ‘contract killers’.

Do not be alarmed by such messages as they cannot harm you and their intention is simply to take money from you.


Subject: You can RUN but can never HIDE

Hello am i am a professional hired killer

You don’t know me but I know you because i am paid to kill you, your and your entire family Everything about you

I have been told this is What I do for a living 

There is only one way you can help yourself if you want to live again That is why am WRITING you 

Note: this do not involve the police or let any one know about this, If you do I have no choice but kill you unless you send me $2,000. 

Contact my email if you want to live

Lucky You

Hints that it’s a scam

  • The email is written in an extremely threatening tone and requests money.
  • It contains spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
  • The detail is vague and often makes little sense.

Inheritance scams

You’re contacted by a stranger and told to act fast to claim a large sum of money from an unknown, distant relative who has died and left you a fortune.

The scammer usually pretends to be the deceased person’s lawyer or a representative from a bank, and the figure quoted is often listed in foreign currency.

The scammer says he or she needs your personal details, or that you need to pay a fee (for taxes or other administrative costs) before you can claim your inheritance.

These scams can be very elaborate. Often the scammer will send you fake legal documents in an attempt to convince you that it is real.



Dear BeneficiaryMy name is Dr. Kingsley C. Moghalu,the deputy governor CBN.

I was mandated to complete all the unpaid Contract/inheritance/lottery fund.

You are required to reconfirm your information including your name, phone number and your address for verification and immediate payment of the sum of TEN MILLION, SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS (US$10.7m).

I can be reached on this number anytime: [phone number removed].

Dr. Kingsley Moghalu, Deputy Governor CBN

Hints that it’s a scam

  • The sender is unknown to the recipient.
  • The email requests the recipient’s personal information.
  • It contains spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Lottery scams

Much like inheritance scams, you’re contacted by a stranger and told that you have won a large sum of money in a lottery, and you have to act fast to claim it!

Example TXT message

Your mobile No won £500,000 & Toyota car 2010/2011 model in the MICROSOFT PROMO.Send Name, Address, Age,Email & mobile No for claims to: enquiry claims@biglotto.com

Example email message

Subject: Congratulations!!

Confirm Mail Receipt!!Congratulations! You have been awarded GBP£1,000,000.00 each amongst Five (5) recipients as charity donation from the Rothschild Foundation.

Contact Payment officer: Mr. James Bryan

Hints that they are scams

  • The recipient didn’t enter the competition.
  • The messages both request the recipient’s personal information.
  • The winnings are in Pounds not New Zealand dollars.

More information:

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