What is phishing and how do I deal with hoax emails?

Phishing is the practice of sending random emails claiming to come from a genuine company operating on the internet, in an attempt to trick you into disclosing information at a bogus website operated by fraudsters.

Phishing emails usually claim that it's necessary to update or verify your customer account information. They usually urge you to click on a link from the email which takes you to a bogus website. Any information entered on the bogus website will be captured by the criminals and used for fraudulent purposes.

What is a money mule?

Most of these fraudsters are located overseas. It isn't easy to make transfers online out of New Zealand bank accounts from overseas, so a 'money mule' or 'money transfer agent' is needed to launder the funds obtained in phishing and Trojan scams.

Money mules receive fraudulently gained funds into their accounts, then withdraw the money and send it overseas using a wire transfer service. They're paid a commission for their role in the scam.

Money mules are recruited in a range of ways, including spam emails, adverts on recruitment websites, and approaches to people with their CVs available online. The 'mule' will often not know that they are involved in illegal activity and will simply think they have been recruited for a legitimate job.

Things to look out for when applying for a job online:

  • you applied for the job online, got the job, but have never met your employer
  • they've asked you to receive money on their behalf to your account, for which you keep a commission and pay the rest via Western Union or some other way of making payments overseas.
  • Any person who takes part in this type of activity may be held liable for the money they've sent overseas, and become involved in a police investigation. If you think you've become involved in this type of scam, or are unsure about someone you've been communicating with online, you can call us to discuss.
What should I do if I get a hoax/phishing email requesting my internet banking details?

Do not reply to any emails requesting your internet banking login details. Delete it immediately. Do not click on any link provided in the email. Kiwibank will NEVER ask you to disclose your internet banking login details by email. You can forward these types of emails to suspicious.email@kiwibank.co.nz.

What can I do to keep my computer safe?

Check out the internet security section on this website.

You can also seek advice and have your computer checked by a specialist computer company.

Where can I find more information about keeping my computer safe?

Microsoft has a comprehensive site dedicated to your security at home. Financial Fraud Action is a comprehensive UK based site that's relevant for Kiwis too. The Consumer Protection website is also a good one to check regularly.