Why it matters
If an online shopping site is not registered in New Zealand and something goes wrong with your order, you do not have the same legal rights as if you'd bought from a New Zealand store.
So before you buy something online, you need to feel confident that the company or person you're buying from:
- is who they say they are
- will deliver exactly what you ordered in good time
- has measures to keep your personal information and payment details secure, and
- is contactable if there's a problem with your order.
Lately we've seen more and more websites operating from overseas that make it look like they are a real New Zealand business – but they're actually foreign scam sites.
- use a .co.nz URL
- have a New Zealand phone number
- show an image of a New Zealand flag, or
- state that they are New Zealand based.
A common example is foreign scammers setting up a website that claims to sell big brand shoes for very low prices, with a .co.nz web address. Buyers might receive imitation shoes, an entirely different product to what they ordered – or never receive anything at all.
How to protect yourself
Be wary of suspicious sites
Look for signs to confirm if an online store is legitimate or not. Some signs that a website is suspicious are:
- bad spelling, grammar or design, broken links or missing pages
- sites that have an odd combination of brands or goods, like trampolines and coffee plungers
- sites where the URL doesn’t seem to match what they’re selling – for example, if Bob’s Sporting Goods (bobssportinggoods.co.nz) was selling women’s high heel shoes
- negative online consumer feedback and reviews – or overly positive feedback and reviews that feel or look fake
- they don’t list a physical address, or the physical address is not for a retail shop
- they don't list a phone number, or the phone number isn't working
their social media links don't work, or they only have a handful of followers
- they don’t display terms of trade (including return policies) or fully disclose costs (such as shipping and delivery)
- the goods they sell are much cheaper than anywhere else. If a deal seems too good to be true it probably is.
Is the offer too good to be true? – Domain Name Commission
Check the company is a registered New Zealand business
A website with '.nz' at the end isn’t always a New Zealand business. So, if it looks local but feels funny, check if the company is registered to sell products in New Zealand.
You can check:
- if the owners of the domain name are registered in New Zealand by searching the New Zealand Domain Name Commission register
- if the business is a registered New Zealand company in the Companies Register.