Insurance payouts could be scammers' next target – BNZ

Customers urged to be wary

Insurance payouts could be scammers' next target – BNZ

Bank of New Zealand is urging New Zealanders who have received, or who are about to receive insurance payments following Cyclone Gabrielle and floods in the Upper North Island to be extra vigilant for scammers.

“Scammers often prey on people in vulnerable situations, and we want to ensure that New Zealanders are prepared and protected,” said Ashley Kai Fong, BNZ head of financial crime.

One threat that Kiwis should be wary of is the invoice scam, where scammers compromise email accounts of legitimate businesses and modify customer bills, replacing the actual bank account number with their own.

“Always thoroughly check the authenticity of any invoice or bill you receive and contact the sender directly if you have any doubts,” Kai Fong said. “Additionally, confirm with a supplier that the bank account number on an invoice is correct before making a payment.”

Another scamming method is bogus trade services, where fake tradies offer to repair properties or utility services fast or at cheap rates, only to do a poor job, damage properties, or take off with the upfront payment before completing the work. 

“Always request written quotes and references from tradespeople you hire, and avoid paying cash or disclosing personal information,” Kai Fong said.

Investment scams are another cause for concern.

“Getting back on your feet after a natural disaster takes time, and some people may look for places to keep their insurance money while they wait for homes to be rebuilt or property to be replaced,” Kai Fong said.

“We urge all New Zealanders to exercise caution and do their research before investing any money. Be sceptical of unsolicited investment offers, verify the credentials of any investment adviser, and ensure they’re licensed by the Financial Markets Authority. It is also recommended to call the intended recipient of your investment on their publicly listed number to confirm their account details. Always report suspicious activity and seek independent advice before making any decisions. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

BNZ is also warning against scammers exploiting New Zealanders’ goodwill through deceptive fundraising efforts.

“Always check out any charity before donating by visiting their official website or calling their official number to make sure they are legit,” Kai Fong said. “Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited emails, in case they are dodgy.”

BNZ listed a set of golden rules to protect Kiwis from scams:

  • Never open links/attachments in emails or text messages from unknown senders
  • Always check the sender’s email address for accuracy, especially if the email seems suspicious
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is
  • Urgency is a red flag – scammers will try to rush you
  • Contact your bank as soon as possible if you think you’ve been scammed, to increase the chance of recovering money
  • Take the time to just pause and think. Trust your gut – if it feels wrong, it probably is

Visit for more information on how to protect yourself from scams.

Have you or your client been scammed? Share your experience in the comments section below.