Types of scams and fraud

Learn about different types of scams and fraud, so you can keep yourself – and your money – safe.

Who can be scammed

Anyone can fall victim to a scam. Scammers target people of any gender or age, and it doesn’t matter how much money you have. It’s important to stay up to date with the types of scams.

How to spot scams and fraud

Identity theft

If someone gets your personal information, they can use it to pretend to be you. They could get credit in your name, access your funds and even open bank accounts, all without your authorisation.

Examples of how people can get your personal information:

  • Pretending to be from a trusted organisation like your bank, a government agency or the Police
  • Stealing your mail
  • Going through your rubbish or recycling to find documents
  • Phishing scams, such as emails or text messages that trick you into sharing personal or bank details
  • Copying your social media account to make a fake profile and contacting your friends list
  • A data breach at an organisation, or someone saying there’s been a data breach as an attempt to gain your personal information.

Banking fraud and scams

An automated call says it’s from your bank or credit card provider and there’s a suspicious transaction on your account. You’re asked to press 1 to speak to the fraud team, and then asked for personal details or to provide remote access to your computer, mobile or device.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Hang up immediately
  • Don’t provide any personal details
  • Call your bank using the number on their website or on the back of your card. 

Fraudsters phone customers pretending to be bank staff and say their bank accounts are at risk of fraud or there is suspicious activity on their account. They may say that money needs to be moved to another account to protect it, request your online banking log in details, credit or debit card details, remote access to your device or two factor authentication codes to stop a transaction.

We recommend you end these calls immediately and report them to your telecommunications provider. 

Don’t ever provide banking information to someone you don't know who calls, messages or emails you unexpectedly. Always contact ANZ via a phone number or other contact method listed on our website and speak to ANZ staff if you want to check the legitimacy of the contact.

Contact us

How do you know if it’s really ANZ

Our fraud team may call customers from time to time to verify suspicious transactions like these. However, we will never ask you:

  • For your banking passwords, PINs, or two factor authentication codes
  • For your full card number or CVV
  • To transfer money, purchase gift cards or to set up crypto currency accounts
  • To download software or remotely access into your device. 

Card fraud can involve either the use of your physical credit, Visa Debit or EFTPOS card or just your card details, like your card number, PIN or CVV number.

Examples of card fraud:

  • Someone steals your card, or finds your lost card, and uses it
  • Your new or replacement card is intercepted in the mail 
  • An ATM skimming device captures your card data, which is copied onto a new card
  • You share your card details online or over the phone and the details are misused
  • Data breach at an online store which has your card details from past purchases.

Criminals may trick or use someone, called a ‘money mule’, to help them transfer or hide stolen money. 

The mule might be asked to transfer stolen money to another bank or crypto-currency account, withdraw the money, or buy gift or gaming cards to give to someone else. 

Sometimes a money mule might even sell access to use their bank account or cards.

If you are a money mule, it is very serious. 

While money mules may be tricked into being involved in moving stolen money for criminals, you may be breaking the law and may impact how easily you can get a bank account. 

Common examples of money mule scams:

  • Someone offers you a job where you’re asked to transfer money deposited to your account to others, keeping a ‘commission’ for your involvement.
  • You’re offered money to sell your account to someone, including giving that person your online banking login credentials, personal information, PINs, or card details.
  • You’re offered money to receive funds into your account and give your debit or EFTPOS card to someone who withdraws those funds.
  • You're asked to buy gift or gaming cards and give the card details to someone else.
  • You’re asked to set up crypto currency accounts using money deposited into your bank account by someone.
  • You may be asked by someone you’re in a relationship with online to transfer money you receive into your account to them or to someone else for them.
  • You may even be threatened to send someone money that is deposited into your account.

How to avoid being a money mule: 

  • Be sceptical of jobs advertising to earn money easily and quickly – if it’s too good to be true it usually is.
  • Do your own research about any job offers.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or family member.
  • Never sell your account or let anyone use your account to receive money and withdraw or transfer money to another account.
  • Never give anyone your cards, PIN numbers, or other banking details.
  • Never give anyone access to your digital banking.

Email, phone and text scams

A caller says they are from your bank, the Police or a well-known company and that your computer, mobile device or accounts have been hacked, they need your help to catch the hackers or bank staff under investigation. You may be asked to transfer money to New Zealand or offshore accounts to download an app giving them remote access to your mobile, computer or device or to withdraw cash in branch and have this along with cards and PINs ready for pick up from your home.

They may claim it’s an Interpol operation, so your local police station won’t know about or that bank staff are involved in the scam and you can’t say anything in case you tip them off. it.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Do not follow their instructions
  • Hang up immediately. 

An unexpected caller who’ll often pressure you to act immediately. They impersonate banks and  well-known companies and will ask you to share private information (e.g. two-factor authentication codes (2FA), PINs, passwords, or other personal or bank details). They may pressure you to allow remote access to your device. The scammer may also be trying to log into your online banking, which is why they ask for your information. 

Common examples of cold calls: 

  • There’s a fraudulent transaction or suspicious activity on your account
  • Fraudulent payments have been set up to send money to New Zealand or overseas accounts and they can help stop these, but they need your 2FA code to stop the transactions
  • There’s a problem with your computer or mobile device
  • Your help is needed to catch hackers or bank staff involved in fraudulent activity
  • You have a refund or payment due 
  • You have to pay an invoice or bill 
  • Your bank accounts are at risk and you need to transfer your money to a “safe account”. 

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Say no
  • Hang up immediately
  • Do not share  any personal information or your login details
  • If you think the request might be genuine, phone the organisation back on their official, publicly listed number and talk to a staff member
  • Always say no if you’re asked to buy pre-loaded debit cards, gift cards, cryptocurrency, iTunes cards or use third party money transfer agencies.

A caller says they’re from a well-known company and you have a problem with your computer or internet connection. They ask you to download an app giving them remote access to your mobile, device or computer, then pretend to run a diagnostic test. They may offer to assess your computer’s security system.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Hang up immediately
  • Don’t let anyone have remote access to your devices, no matter where they say they’re calling from
  • If you give access and realise it’s a scam, turn off your device and disconnect it from the internet immediately
  • Change all your passwords using a different device
  • Run a full security scan to check for malware. 

An email or text message asks you to click on a link as an attempt to trick you into giving the scammer your money or personal information. These messages usually impersonate banks, government agencies or delivery notifications.

Phishing or smishing can seem legitimate as they use the same logos and designs of the companies or organisations they’re pretending to be. 

Callers usually pretend to be from somewhere like a phone company or bank and say there's a problem with your bank accounts, internet connection, mobile, device or computer.

The most common scenarios are:

  • You’re being hacked and they can help you stop it 
  • They've seen unauthorised transactions on your accounts. 
  • You have a security software update due or your internet is going to be disconnected
  • They'll ask you to download software or an app that gives them access to your device from another location.

They’ll often give a reason for you to log into your online banking, such as to review unauthorised transactions or to pay for updated security software. Scammers might even provide step by step instructions or offer to walk you through the process.

When someone gains access to your device (ie smartphone, tablet or computer), it could allow them to access your Internet Banking or goMoney to make payments using your device and to obtain two factor authentication codes sent to your device.  Remote access can also be used to steal your personal details or any data saved on that device, or to impersonate you. 

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Never give strangers access to your devices 
  • Never save your Internet Banking passwords or login details to the browser.  

Own or run a business?

Scammers may make it look like messages come from your business. Phishing or smishing tries to trick you or your customers into sharing personal information or login details. It’s important to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) and keep your software and devices updated to help protect against attacks.

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Do not click links in unexpected emails or texts
  • Delete the message
  • If you clicked the link and realise it’s a scam, change your passwords immediately
  • Notify your bank
  • Switch on two-factor authentication.

How to spot a phone scam

How to spot a phone scam brought to you by ANZ.

The caller will often pretend to be from a phone company, bank or the Police.

They'll often say there's a problem with your bank account, computer or device

They'll ask you to download software or an app to give them access to your device from their location. Or they might ask for your banking or other personal details.

Hang up on them. Be very cautious sharing information with anyone who calls you out of the blue.

Never give them remote access, or share your passwords, PINs or security codes.

Together, let's fight scams.

How to spot a phishing scam

How to spot an email phishing scam brought to you by ANZ.

The email might appear to be from someone claiming to be your bank or another well known or trusted company.

It might say there's a problem and ask you to click on a link to log in, verify or update personal and financial information.

Fraudsters try to infect your computer or device with malicious software or get you to give away your personal information, credit card details or security codes.

Don't click on the link. Always log into your accounts by visiting the official website.

Together, let's fight scams.

Scams related to businesses

You receive an invoice for a product or service you haven’t ordered or received. Or, a business’s email is hacked to send invoices with a different account for payment. 

You may be expecting an invoice. A scammer intercepts it to change the bank account so they get the funds instead, or they send a follow-up email claiming the business forgot to update the bank account. Some scammers set up auto-forwarding so if you email to question the invoice, the scammer will reply, not the business. 

Businesses: How to help avoid this scam

  • Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) 
  • Regularly check your email access logs and keep an eye out for any unusual login behaviour (unexpected or foreign IP addresses)
  • Create long and strong passwords 
  • Create a process that involves two people in your business to review the invoice and confirm the details over the phone with your payee. 

Customers: How to help avoid this scam

  • Always contact the business directly (preferably by calling) to confirm the invoice and bank account number is correct before paying.
  • If you’ve already transferred the funds, contact your bank immediately. 

Report the incident to Cert NZ or the Police. 

Someone calls you saying they’re from the government and you’re eligible for a government grant. They might say it’s for being a good citizen or paying your tax on time. You’ll then be asked for personal and banking details, or to pay an ‘administration fee’, to process the grant. 

Another example is a call or email saying you’re eligible for a tax refund. 

Or, they might say you have to pay a fine, tax, or a fee for tax avoidance.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Hang up immediately
  • Contact the government agency from the phone number on its official website
  • If it’s tax-related, check if it’s legitimate by logging into your myIR account with Inland Revenue

Extortion scams

You receive an automated phone message that says you are in trouble with your home embassy or consulate and need to pay a fee to avoid breaching immigration and visa conditions. The scammers claim you are suspected of a serious foreign crime and demand you send large sums of money to avoid being deported or arrested. 

How to avoid this scam:

  • Don’t reply or follow their instructions
  • Contact your local Police
  • Be vigilant when anyone contacts you out of the blue with unusual or urgent requests.

Too good to be true scams

An investment scam aims to trick you into investing in a fake business opportunity or financial product. Scammers usually promise high or fast returns, low risk, and exclusive insider information. 

You may be offered an opportunity to:

  • Purchase shares in a company
  • Invest funds in a term deposit
  • Invest in foreign exchange
  • Invest in gold or other precious metals
  • Invest in property
  • Buy cryptocurrency.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Be wary of an unexpected phone call, social media posts or social media chat, where you ultimately get asked for money or to invest
  • Be wary of scam websites when searching online for investment opportunities
  • Before investing money, research the company using the companies register, the investment opportunity, and the people behind it. Look for information from independent sources, including regulatory agencies, financial analysts, and reputable news outlets
  • Take your time to thoroughly look into it. Before making any decisions, consult a licensed financial advisor or investment professional.
  • Search if the business or individuals are listed on the Financial Markets Authority’s Warnings and alerts 
  • Be extremely careful with offshore investments, which may be unregulated and unlicenced. Search online using the company name and “scam” or “scam warning” to see if any international regulators have issued warnings.

You receive a message saying you’ve won a prize from a travel competition or lottery that you haven’t entered. To claim the prize you need to pay a fee to cover tax or other costs. 

You shouldn’t have to pay to claim a prize, and it always helps to check if it is a legitimate competition before entering any personal details or paying for a chance to win. 

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Check if it’s a legitimate competition – scammers may create fake profiles to copy competitions run by companies and organisations  
  • Don’t click any links to claim your prize
  • Don’t reply to the message – if you’re unsure if the prize is genuine, use contact details on the official website or social media account of the business or organisation.  

An online buy and sell scam is when someone poses as a buyer or a seller on a buy and sell social media page or group, or sets up a fake business. Scammers usually exploit your optimism by offering goods or services that may not exist at a price that seems too good to be true, or by claiming to have paid in full or overpaid for an item you’re selling by sending you a fake screenshot. You may be asked for the difference to be refunded.  

How buyers can avoid this scam:

  • Ask for more photos of the goods you want
  • Be wary if the price looks too good to be true
  • Check the seller’s star ratings and reviews
  • Never give a seller your online banking login or credit card details
  • Request tracked shipping
  • Ideally, inspect the goods in person before you pay

How sellers can avoid this scam:

  • If you’re selling goods, you should never have to pay the buyer any money
  • Be wary if a buyer contacts you off the sale platform to complete a transaction
  • Only use trusted payment methods 
  • Don’t rely on screenshots as proof of payment, check your bank account and only send goods after payment has been received
  • Don’t click on links a buyer sends you to confirm purchase or postage. They could be after your online banking, credit card, or PAYPAL details
  • Be wary if a buyer asks you to provide personal info, such as your credit card details. Never provide your online banking log in details

Scammers may use QR codes to download malicious software to your device, or lead you to a fake website to enter your details to win a competition or giveaway – but there’s no prize. 

How to avoid this scam:

  • Think twice before clicking the link from a QR code – you should be able to see the URL before you click on the link
  • Don’t enter your details until you’ve checked if it’s a legitimate competition or giveaway
  • If the QR code seems to be from a business or organisation, check if their official website or social media accounts promote the competition or giveaway. 

Relationship scams

You may be caught up in a romance scam if the other person:

  • Makes excuses to not video call or meet you in person, so you’ve never seen them on video or in real life
  • Spends months establishing a friendship or relationship, then starts asking to borrow increasing sums of money or persuades you to invest in confusing schemes
  • Says they have a problem or family emergency that they need your help with – they make it seem urgent and need you to decide quickly or instantly
  • Is quick to profess their love or admiration, or wants to move the relationship to the next level quickly, e.g. proposing within a short amount of time   
  • Pressures you into doing what they ask of you– they may say you should do it to prove you care
  • Says they work in a hard to reach or isolated place like an oil rig, or in the military, or even just overseas
  • Asks you to leave a dating site and communicate directly using email or a messaging service like WhatsApp
  • Attempts to isolate you from friends and family.

You may only notice one or two of these signs, but if you feel uneasy or unsure about any requests from an online friend or partner, or your relationship with them, talk to a trusted family member or friend.

How to avoid this scam:

  • Never send money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in person
  • Talk to a trusted family member or friend
  • If the person always has excuses for not meeting you in person or video call, cut all contact
  • Be cautious about who you communicate with online
  • Never invest in something that you don’t understand, or haven’t done your own research on.

Scammers gets, or pretend to have, intimate images or videos to blackmail you into sending money. 

They may make contact on social media,  pretending to be someone of a similar age to build trust. The scammer may start by sharing intimate images to encourage the person to share their own. They may claim to have access to the person’s contact list and threaten to send the images. 

How to avoid this scam:

  • Don’t respond or send money to the scammer
  • Report it to your local Police
  • Tell a trusted friend or family member so they can support you.

These free services can help remove or stop the sharing of intimate images or videos:

Scammers impersonate friends or whānau on WhatsApp and may claim they have lost their phone. They then try to get you to send money, or share personal information like credit card, online banking, or two-factor authentication details. 

How to avoid this scam: 

  • Check if it’s really your friend or family – contact them another way, or use a family code word
  • Don’t give in to urgent requests for money, even if it sounds like an emergency
  • Block the scammer’s number. 

Protect your money from investment scams

How to protect yourself from investment scams brought to you by ANZ.

Fraudsters cold-call or contact you out of the blue.

They offer an investment with high rewards and little risk.

They might say the offer is "top secret" or "only available for a limited time". They won't provide much information in writing.

Ask yourself if it is real. Do not be rushed, be sceptical and ask lots of questions.

Together, let's fight scams.

How to spot a romance scam

How to spot a romance scam brought to you by ANZ.

You might begin exchanging emails or messages with someone you met online, and a romantic relationship develops.

But look out for red flags. You should be wary if the relationship moves quickly, they tell you stories about why they need money from you, or they won't meet you in person.

If you think you have been scammed, don't send any more money. And contact your bank immediately.

Together, let's fight scams.

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