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How to spot a scam

Email scams

Phishing, spear phishing, whaling and spoofing are types of scam emails.

Phishing scams are emails sent to a large group of people, with no particular targeting. They're fake emails that come from people pretending to be from a trusted organisation. For example, your bank, telecommunications provider or even from the government. Phishing emails ‘fish’ for information so usually ask for personal information, such as:

  • Login details 
  • Passwords 
  • Credit card numbers  

There's more information about phishing on the Netsafe website. Visit Netsafe website

Spear phishing is like phishing, except the email addresses you by name. This makes it sound more convincing.

Whale phishing is a targeted scam. The email will address you by name and appear to be from 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:

  • abuse@xtra.co.nz
  • webmaster@xtra.co.nz
  • info@xtra.co.nz
  • service@xtra.co.nz
  • register@xtra.co.nz
  • administrator@xtra.co.nz
  • support@xtra.co.nz

Note: Genuine emails you receive from Spark will only ever include links to the Spark website (spark.co.nz). We'll never ask you for passwords or account information by email. If you think you've received a suspicious email from Spark please contact us. Chat with Spark

You can see a list of verified email scams on the current scams page. See current scams

  • Immediate calls to actions, for example, “URGENT” are good signs of phishing
  • 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.
  • Generic greetings like ”Hello” or “Dear customer”. This is a sign of a mass email post.
  • Scammers can also use your name to be more convincing, or sign the email off from someone you know. This is called whale phishing.
  • The email asks for personal information. A reputable company will never ask for personal information like your password or credit card number via email.
  • The email threatens you to take action. For example, you must pay your account now or you'll lose connection immediately.

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. It could have been a mass email post. 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. There are a range of strategies a scammer uses to trick the person, 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 verified phone scams on the current scams page. See current scams 

  • It’s a cold call you weren’t expecting. The caller claims they've identified a problem in your modem or computer. Or that your WiFi has been hacked or is running slow due to a recent Fibre install or virus. They offer to help by taking control of your computer through Team Viewer.
  • Note: Spark does not call customers unexpectedly to say they have a virus on their computer or modem
  • If the person is suspicious, they often provide a New Zealand number for the person to call back on. This number belongs to the scammers and they 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 or 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. Scam calls are often very noisy in the background.  
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