The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

What is spam?

Spam in this context refers to unwanted email, fax, SMS TXT and other instant messages that are commercial by nature.

New Zealand’s Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 is designed to help stop spammers, by creating a safe and secure electronic environment for businesses and the community.

Commercial messages

Although there are many forms of communication that can be considered spam, the Act is only concerned only with unsolicited electronic messages that are commercial in nature.

Commercial includes promoting or marketing of goods and services. It is worth noting that goods and services can include electronic messages that promote or market a “free” product or service as they still meet the definition of goods or services regardless of cost.

There are some messages that are not considered unsolicited for the purpose of the Act such as messages that complete a financial transaction.

If you have signed a contract with a phone or Internet Service Provider (ISP), or with another business, the contract may include a clause allowing the provider to send you promotional or informational messages about your account. Ensure you read all terms and conditions carefully.

For a full definition of a commercial electronic message including messages that are exempt, please review section 6 of the Act.

Functionality

The Act also covers various aspects related to the functionality of a commercial electronic message.

This includes ensuring the message contains a functional unsubscribe facility within the message and including information about the sender of the message, such as identifying who the sender of the message is and how a recipient can readily contact that person.

Different types of spam

We break down spam into three categories - nuisance; scams and phishing and malware.

Scams

Beware - spam messages can also be scams, designed to defraud you, for example by pretending that you have won a lottery or been left an inheritance.

Remember - scammers want you to reply or take action from their message. Some will pretend to be from well-known businesses, include links they want you to click on, or ask you to log into an account. Some may even include malicious software to spy on you, hijack your accounts and contacts or use your computer or device for malicious purposes such as sending further scam messages.

Complain about spam

If you receive spam, make a complaint so we can investigate and take the appropriate action.

Complain about spam

See also: Tips for avoiding spam