15 Nov 2023

Our Fraud Prevention team works year-round, 24/7, to protect you and your money. But they need your help.

Each year scams and fraud increase over the festive season. Stay safe by following these tips to help prevent them.

Tips to stay safe.

    • If you believe you've been targeted by a scam, contact us immediately by calling 0800 400 600
    • If you think your card has been compromised, you can block it through the ‘Manage my Cards’ button in Westpac One® online banking
    • Or if you think your card PIN has been compromised, you can change it in Westpac One online banking under ‘Manage my Cards’
    • Set up security alerts on Westpac One online banking to keep track of account activity
    • Stay up to date with the latest scams on our website.

Here are some common scams around this time of year and ways to avoid them.

#1 Online shopping

Shopping online is a great way to avoid the crowds, but there are a few things to watch out for. Scammers may send emails and create fake ads or social media accounts directing you to sites that take your payment details. Once they have accessed your personal information or credit card details, they can continue to steal your money.

When buying online:

    • Only purchase from well-known retailers or conduct thorough research before making a purchase - check their social media and any online reviews outside of their site
    • Think twice about offers that are too good to be true, they often are
    • Hover over links without clicking to check you’re being sent to the official site you were expecting
    • Visit a retailer’s official website to confirm any specials or deals
    • Keep an eye out for any charges you don't recognise on your credit card statements.

#2 Marketplaces

Buying directly from another person can be a great option, but it can also expose you to a wide variety of scams. Be extra careful when trading in online marketplaces, like Facebook Marketplace or Trade Me.

Scammers can pose as both buyers and sellers to try and scam you out of your money, items you might be looking to sell online or your personal information. When the scammer is posing as a buyer, they'll either get you to send the goods without paying or send you to a site (often using a phishing email) where they say you need to pay money or provide details to arrange delivery or resolve a payment issue. These sites will capture your bank account details, and scammers use these to try and steal your money.

When the scammer is posing as the seller, they can trick you into paying for a product or service that does not exist or is never delivered.

When buying or selling on online marketplaces:

    • Don’t rely on emails, texts or screenshots as proof of payment
    • Always confirm the money is showing in your account before releasing goods.
    • Consider viewing the goods in person before completing the purchase
    • Beware of unusual payment methods, such as cryptocurrency or overseas payments
    • Reconsider trading if the seller’s profile has been recently set up, if they use an alias rather than a full name, if they have bad feedback, little or no feedback, or limited friends and connections
    • Be wary if the seller applies pressure to complete the sale, or requests to complete trades or communicate off the platform.

#3 Parcel delivery phishing

Phishing texts usually contain information about a parcel that is due for delivery or a delivery that has been missed. The text contains a web link to track, reschedule or approve the delivery or pay a Customs fee.

Clicking the link could direct to a phishing site. These will impersonate a real site – like a postal service, or your bank. They will have a screen to enter your card details, or even to log in to your bank account. These details will be captured to compromise your account or make fraudulent payments. The sites may also have malware which will infect your devices and steal more information.

When expecting a courier delivery:

    • Be wary of contact by text, phone or email that is unexpected
    • Carefully check any text messages you receive and avoid clicking on links unless you can confirm they are genuine
    • If you're unsure, contact the company directly through an official channel to confirm.

#4 Investment scams

Investment scams often start from an advertisement online which may pretend to provide a 'comparison' or advisory service. They collect personal information, and will call or email you back offering an 'opportunity'.

The scammers often have a professional looking prospectus, and a well-designed website with a log-in portal where people can see their supposed returns. They also impersonate well-known financial institutions to make their scams look legitimate.

Due to the nature of investment scams, it can be extremely difficult to recover any funds once the victim realises it’s a scam.

When taking out a new investment:

    • Always complete thorough, independent research on all investment opportunities
    • Visit the Financial Markets Authority website for information on the latest investment scams
    • Contact the financial institution offering the investment using a number on their official website to confirm the offer is legitimate
    • Seek advice from a qualified Financial Advisor and use a licensed or registered financial service provider. Ensure they are registered on the Financial Service Providers Register on Companies Office and, if appropriate, licensed by the Financial Markets Authority
    • Don’t respond to cold calls, emails or social media messages about investment opportunities
    • Be wary when searching for investments online. Avoid engaging with online ads and online brokers or businesses with no presence in New Zealand
    • Avoid investing in a scheme or technology (such as cryptocurrency) that you don’t understand
    • Be extremely cautious if the opportunity offers low or no risk and promises returns higher than current market rates
    • Before making payments, confirm the payment account information (and other details such as the country the funds are going to) match the investment details.

#5 Bank Impersonations

Be wary if you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from your bank.

The caller may have a believable story for this call, for example they may claim that there’s fraud in your account and that you need to take urgent action to keep your money safe. They will try to convince you to make payments or hand over your information (including verification codes) but it’s important that you stop and consider all requests before doing anything.

When you receive an unexpected call:

    • If you have any doubt, hang up and phone us back yourself using our official phone number: 0800 400 600
    • If you’re calling us after a suspicious phone call, always wait on the phone until we answer, don’t request our call back service. Scammers often call again, and you may think it’s us, but it could be the scammer again
    • Don't feel pressured to comply with a request you’re not comfortable with
    • Scammers often spend a long time convincing people to do what they want and may call them repeatedly
    • Carefully read any email and text alerts you receive from us and make sure that you are using that information for its intended purpose only
    • Don’t allow remote access to your devices or download software at the request of a caller.

Find out more information about keeping yourself safe and the latest scams.