Please configure

Common types of scams

Learn how to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a scam.

This page offers tips to help you avoid being scammed and highlights some of the common characteristics of phone and email scams so that you can spot them.

Tips to avoid scams

  • Be careful where and with whom you share your personal details
  • Consider changing your directory listing to the confidential setting. Scammers sometimes use information like name, address and phone number to appear legitimate and trustworthy. More information about directory listings
  • Be sure to keep your software and anti-virus programmes up to date
  • Don't use the same password  for your online banking, email and social media accounts
  • Change your passwords often and don't go back to old passwords. Always set up and use a new one. 
  • Be wary when paying any invoices received via email or making transfers after being asked, particularly if they're large sums, even if they're payments you're expecting to make. If you receive any large invoices, it's a good idea to call the business directly to double check it's genuine and that the account details are correct before you pay.
  • Regularly check that there's no unusual activity on your email account. This includes any auto-forwarding rules that you didn't set up. To check this in Xtra Mail, do the following: 
    • Select the right-hand menu
    • Select Settings
    • Select Email
    • Select Mail Forwarding
    • If you see an address you're not expecting, select Disable Forwarding, or delete the address be selecting the X next to the forwarding address
  • Check any other email accounts you might have for auto-forwarding rules you didn't set up, or any other unusual activity
  • Check your bank accounts and other accounts for unusual activity. If you think you have paid a fake invoice, contact your bank immediately.
  • Check the Scam alerts page to learn about current known scams. Scam alerts

Email scams

Email scams usually fall into four different category types. Phishing, spear phishing, whaling and spoofing.

This page will help differentiate between the different types of emails scams to help you spot them if they come your way.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are fake emails that come from people pretending to be from a trusted organisation. For example, your bank, telecommunications provider or even from the government.

The term 'phishing' relates to people 'fishing' for information. Scammers send these emails to large groups of people with no particular targeting and usually ask for personal information such as the following:

  • Login details 
  • Passwords 
  • Credit card numbers  

You can find more information about phishing on the Netsafe website. Visit Netsafe website

Spear phishing

Spear phishing is like phishing, except the email addresses you by name, making it seem more legitimate. 

Whale phishing

Whale phishing is a targeted scam. The email will address you by name and sign off as someone you know or trust. 


Spoofing is when someone forges an email to make it look like it's come from a specific email address. If someone receives an email from you, but you didn't send it, someone has spoofed your email address.

If you receive an email that looks like it's from a generic Xtra Mail or Spark email address, it may not be from Spark. This includes emails that look like they're from:


If you think you've received a suspicious email from Spark please contact us. Message us

You can see a list of verified email scams on our scam alerts page. See scam alerts

  • Immediate calls to action. For example, “You must pay your account now or you'll lose connection immediately.” Or, they might use words like "URGENT." 
  • Bad spelling or grammar
  • A link in the email that looks suspicious or directs to somewhere unrelated. Be careful as scammers can hide the suspicious link with a hyperlink. Hover over a link to see if the web address is legitimate and relates to the email content.
  • Scammers will sometimes use your name to appear more convincing, or sign the email off from someone you know. This is called whale phishing.
  • The email may ask for personal information. A reputable company will never ask for personal information like your password or credit card number via email.

Here's an example of a phishing email. The list below points out what you should look out for:

Spam email example
  1. An email address you don't recognise should get you thinking.
  2. Immediate calls to action like "URGENT" are good signs of phishing.
  3. With everything else going on, this attachment is sure to contain a few surprises. Always check before you click!
  4. They haven't used a name here, so it's likely to have been a mass email post. But don't get complacent if your name is in there. Spear and whale phishing can target individuals.
  5. Bad spelling and grammar is a good sign that something isn't right.
  6. The link starts off well but then gets a little suspicious.
  7. Asking you to enter your personal details like this is a sure sign of a scam.
  8. Always hover over links to see if the web address is legitimate and relates to the email's content.

Read more about keeping yourself safe online. Stay safe online

Phone scams

There are many different types of phone scams and a range of strategies scammers use to trick people, including number spoofing. This is where a scammer disguises the original caller ID with a number they choose. For example, a call may look like it's from a local NZ number but is actually coming from overseas.

You can see a list of phone scams on our scam alerts page. See scam alerts

Select a link below to download your guide to protecting yourself from phone scams.


  • It’s a cold call you weren’t expecting.
  • The caller usually claims they've identified a problem in your modem or computer. Or, they'll claim that your WiFi has been hacked or is running slow due to a recent Fibre install or virus, and hope the situation applies to you.
  • Other times, scammers use an automated message when they call which tells you your internet or phone will be disconnected, and to press a number on your keypad to speak to an operator.
  • The scammer often uses scare tactics to create a sense of urgency.
  • They offer to help by taking control of your computer through Team Viewer or AweSun.
    Note: Spark doesn't call customers unexpectedly to tell them they have a virus on their computer or modem.
  • If you come across as suspicious of the scammer, they will often provide a New Zealand number for you to call back on. This number belongs to the scammers and they will answer the call "Hello, Spark help desk".
  • The scammer claims to be from Spark’s help desk and offer their Spark staff number to prove they are an employee. They even offer to give you details of their manager to call.
  • They may know your full name, address and birthday. They can find this information through research online, by looking in the phonebook or they can buy it on the black market. You shouldn't assume they're legitimate for knowing these details.
  • The scammers call from an international call centre with a large number of staff, so scam calls are often very noisy in the background.


Was this article helpful for you?
Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks for your feedback.