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How To Deal With Online Scams In New Zealand

Learn about what you should do if you think you are being scammed (Or are not sure!) 

I am seeing an increasing number of legit looking scams online. And while this is not directly related to digital marketing, my customers are dealing with issues every week that could affect their business. 

In the past week I have seen scam messages from Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Groups and email scams that look harmless enough to trick most folks.  Some clients tend to email me their suspect emails now, but usually only after falling victim to a benign looking link and then suffering. So here are a few resources to help with the issue.

Online scams and spam (unwanted email, fax, SMS TXT and other instant messages that are commercial by nature) can be reported to CERT NZ, NZ Police, The Department ofInternal Affairs, Netsafe or individual telecommunication agencies who all share the responsibility of dealing with online harm. Each organisation covers a specific area of content and has a role to play in protecting people from online scams and spam.

This PDF explains who to contact and when!

Beware - Tips & Stories

NEVER click on a link from someone you don't know, no matter how harmless it looks.

Ignore it, delete it, report it!

Or if you are not sure, respond with a modified version of this email: (Alter as you need to to fit your situation - I'm not a lawyer so check in with yours if you think you should!) 

As you are unknown to us, we cannot click on any links. Please provide screenshots within an email of the offending images or links to them hosted on our website. (not your own)  Please also provide proof of ownership. We take website security and image legality very seriously and do not believe we would have intentionally used any copyright images. 

Please respond with this new information or advise so we can quickly resolve any errors.  

Failure to do so would be considered confirmation that your email is in fact "not legit" and we will need to take further action with NZ and international governing bodies that deal with such issues.  We look forward to your response. 

If It's too good to be true, it probably is. 
I know this seems obvious, but it's not always. As a regular Facebook Marketing seller and purchaser, I like to think I could spot a scam a mile away. But this one almost got me.

I saw a post in a community group for a women who was moving in with her partner and selling some items. (All NZ brands) A fridge, washing machine, bed and other stuff you would expect and at average prices. Nothing spectacular. But within the same post she also posted a picture of a well maintained large galvanised trailer for $1000.  

I contacted her and said I'd take her up on her offer to deliver  the trailer for the price advertised. I lived in another town and planned to have her meet family in her region (at a safe location) and would pay her cash on delivery.  She said yes, no problem. Now I just had to get the cash to my sister so the transaction could be completed. I confess to being a tad excited about getting such a great deal!

But then after a few messages, she went quiet. Strange, yes? I thought I must have missed the boat with needing to transfer cash to my sister overnight. Her solution was to deposit it straight to her. Hmmm

I explained that I would not do that without meeting her or viewing it, and again she went quiet. I was suspicious at this point, but figured I might just be over cautious.  So I messaged her again saying I'd be willing to transfer funds if she provided me more information about herself, where she worked, lived and other stuff. Note, up until this point, her written language was perfectly  "kiwi". 

Again, a big delay. Then 24 hours later I got one line saying she lived in a specific suburb. During this break, I was excitedly telling hubby about my bargain, when I could not locate the post online.... anywhere.  I'm an internet foraging super spy so If it was there, I would have found it. 

Too risky for liking, I did not communicate further. The next day I saw a post on that community page showing a picture of the original post announcing it a scam and a few people had been through the same process as I had. (and some who spotted it immediately) 

So yes, I'm admitting to almost being scammed when many were not.  And at the risk of looking like a total fool by sharing this story, I think it's important to note that ANYONE who has been scammed (or almost scammed) FEELS a fool. Reality is that some life lessons suck but we ALL experience sucky lessons, so Ive shared this one in the hope that it will help someone else NOT be scammed in the future. (Or at least not feel so bad about it if they are!) 

Check Email Addresses

Always check the email address from a bank or legit looking unexpected email asking you to click a link or respond with info. Does it look legit? Not sure - Google it! Or contact the company directly by phone and check. 

Report it & Clean House. 
The PDF guide (download from the top of this page) from the NZ Govt is a great resource on what to do next and when. 

And then, if you supect you have a problem, perhaps it's time to call in the experts and get your PC checked for viruses and malware. Here are a few DIY options for those more tech savvy - be sure to use paid versions if you think you have a problem!

Or if you want to compare:

Best Antivirus Software for New Zealand Review

Stay Safe!