The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


DIA encourages public to be aware of scams

18 March 2020

Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department of Internal Affairs, is mandated under the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 (the Act). The Act is designed to protect people from spam and create a safe and secure electronic environment for everyone.

Over the past months there have been a number of scams emerging that the public should be aware of.

1. Banks

What is it?

Individuals have been targeted by phishing campaigns where they are sent an email or text message notifying them of an issue with their Westpac, BNZ, ANZ or ASB bank account. The target is asked to log in to their account via a link in the message. If the target clicks on the link and enters their login credentials, the scammer will use their credentials to log in and steal money from the target’s account, or on-sell the credentials to others.

What to look out for

Banks should never send you a message with a link, asking you to log in. If you receive a message from your bank and you are unsure about it, contact the bank directly. If you are the victim of a financial scam, credit card scam or identity theft, contact your bank immediately. They will have a policy in place to deal with fraud.

ANZ Message Notification

Message details Email from ASB Bank

2. Video and Music Streaming Platforms

What is it?

Individuals have been targeted by phishing emails and text messages containing a link which takes targets to a webpage identical to Netflix, HBO or Spotify and asks them to log in or retry their credit card details for payment. If they enter the requested details, the scammer will make deductions from the target’s credit card, sometimes large amounts to max it out, or, smaller unnoticeable amounts over a long period of time. In some instances, the target’s credit card information will be sold on to others.

What to look out for

The links in these scam emails and text messages will usually be masking a different web address; for example, the message may show Netflix and appear to be the Netflix website but if you click the link, it will actually take you to a different website. Before clicking any links in the email hover your mouse over the hyperlinked text and if it is directing you towards a web address that looks incorrect then it is likely a scam. For text messages, do not click the link. Individuals should delete the contact from their phone and contact the company directly to confirm if it was a scam.

Message details Email from Netflix

3. TradeMe

What is it?

Some New Zealanders have been targeted by a phishing email which contain a link to a webpage identical to TradeMe and asks the target for personal information, including credit card information, to claim a free $50 gift card from TradeMe. If the target provides this information, the scammer will max out their credit card and in some instances on-sell the information.

What to look out for

Because issuing gift cards is a common initiative issued by businesses, these scams can be easy to miss, so extra precaution should always be taken. If you do not have a membership with TradeMe, you shouldn’t receive any messages from them. If you have a membership you will be aware of their loyalty programme and what benefits you may receive. If you are unsure whether it is a scam or not, it is always best to contact TradeMe directly and confirm.

Email from TradeMe

4. Deceased relative scam

What is it?

Individuals may be targeted by a scammer who says the target can claim an inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy benefactor. The scammer usually poses as a lawyer, banker or other foreign official, and says that the deceased left no other beneficiaries. They might say that an unrelated wealthy person has died without a will, and that the target can inherit their fortune through some legal trickery because they share the same last name. The target will be told that they need to pay money and provide personal details to claim the inheritance.

What to look out for?

Message details

Be wary if you are contacted out of the blue by anyone claiming to be a lawyer or banker and offering an inheritance from a distant relative or wealthy individual. The size of the supposed inheritance may be very large, sometimes many millions of dollars. Remember there are no get-rich-quick schemes: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

How to reduce your risk of being scammed

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Scammers work hard to appear trustworthy however some messages may contain spelling or grammar errors. Even if you know the source, if something looks suspicious, delete it.
  • Think before you act: If you receive an unexpected email or text from an organisation do not engage with it or click any hyperlinks in the message. If you want to confirm it is real, go to the website directly or contact the organisation.
  • Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it. Never provide any personal details including bank log-in details or credit card information, in response to an unsolicited message.
  • Be phishing wise: If you get bank phishing messages regularly, visit have i been pawned website. This will allow you to see if your email address has been captured as part of a previous data breach. If so, be mindful that your email address is now on a number of spam distribution lists and you will continue to get spam.
  • Keep a Clean Machine: Make sure your computer virus protection up to date.
    CERT NZ’s website has advice for anyone wanting to improve their personal cyber security.

How do I report a spam message?

Email Spam: If the email has no attachments then you can complete a short online form on our website.

If the email has attachments or may be malicious you can simply forward it us.

Text Spam: You can report text spam for free on your phone by forwarding the spam text message to 7726. The Department will contact you with details on how to complete a report.

Media Desk
Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs
Mobile: +64 27 535 8639 email: