Skip over navigation

Help and FAQ / What is the orb?

What is the orb?

The orb has been developed by NetSafe to offer all New Zealanders a simple and secure way to report their concerns about online incidents.

We are working with partner agencies to direct your reports through to the organisation best able to investigate or advise you on various types of online incidents that include scams and frauds, spam messages, objectionable material, privacy breaches and problems whilst shopping online.

Our partners currently include: NZ Police, the Department of Internal Affairs, the Privacy Commissioner, Consumer Protection, the Commerce Commission, the National Cyber Security Centre and the New Zealand Customs Service.

The orb allows you to 'report online crimes, online'

Strictly speaking, not all internet based incidents are crimes under New Zealand law and not all our partner are law enforcement agencies.

To keep things simple though we've profiled the types of reports the orb has been set up to handle below and the work our partners do to keep Kiwis safe online.

Spam messages

Spam is the term given to unwanted junk messages you may receive from individuals or companies in New Zealand and from across the globe.

Billions of spam emails and texts are sent every day, mainly from companies trying to sell you products or services that can often be graphic in nature. 'Phishing' emails can also be sent to try and trick you into revealing your bank or credit card details on fake websites.

Spam complaints are dealt with by the Department of Internal Affairs Electronic Messaging Compliance Unit who are based in Wellington. You can submit a report to them for investigation using the orb.

Objectionable material

The Department of Internal Affairs are also responsible for enforcing New Zealand's censorship rules, ensuring that publications considered to be 'objectionable' are not available to members of the public.

The department upholds the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and the later Films, Videos and Publications Classification Amendment Act 2005 which makes it an offence to possess or trade in objectionable publications.

If you are concerned that something you have seen on the internet is objectionable under the law then make a complaint through the orb service.

Scams or frauds

Research carried out by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in 2009 found that 15% of New Zealand adults have been scammed or tricked out of money. NetSafe works with several partners in this area to ensure your report is seen by the most suitable agency.

If you've suffered a loss already, be that goods or money, your report is likely to be sent to NZ Police who may treat the incident as a crime.

The Police may choose to refer your report to the Serious Fraud Office if large sums of money are involved, or to the Customs Service if a crime has taken place across borders. They may also pass your report to international law enforcement partners who are better placed to deal with overseas incidents.

If you're reporting suspicious offers or opportunities you haven't yet taken up - for example an email about a get-rich-quick scheme you feel is untrustworthy - then your report may go to Consumer Protection or the Commerce Commission for further investigation. Consumer Protection may publicise your report as part of their Scamwatch information service.

Online traders

New Zealanders have embraced ecommerce and enjoy the ability to buy goods and services online from both local and international retailers.

The orb allows you to report incidents where you feel a local online trader has not met standards set by the Consumer Guarantees or Fair Trading Acts.

If you have purchased goods online that are fake or banned from sale in this country, you can also make a report and NetSafe may direct this to partners like the Police or NZ Customs Service.

Privacy breaches

The Privacy Commissioner administers the Privacy Act 1993 which applies to almost every person, business or organisation in New Zealand.

The Act sets out 12 privacy principles that guide how personal information can be collected, used, stored and disclosed.

If you have been unable to resolve a complaint with a business or individual over the use or storage of your information then submit a report via the orb and your details will be passed on for further consideration.

Read more about the complaints process on the Privacy Commissioner website.

Attacks on computer systems

Computers are everywhere today and many individuals and organisations rely on their networked systems to ensure ongoing personal and business success.

If you are experiencing attacks on your network or hardware then NetSafe can direct you to partners that include the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the NZ Police National High Tech Crime Group.

If you are having problems with viruses, malware or the hacking of online services such as popular social networking sites then NetSafe will deal with your report and may suggest you explore our current education resources.

Other / don't know

NetSafe have operated a telephone helpline service for many years and we understand that it can be hard to know where to turn for information or advice on internet matters.

If you wish to report an incident that you feel does not fit the other orb categories, then choose this option and NetSafe will review your report and may be able to direct your concerns on to an appropriate partner.

Offending against children and child pornography

NetSafe are promoting two other dedicated services on the orb homepage - contact OCEANZ if you have concerns about people using the internet to exploit or groom children and report child pornography to ECPAT New Zealand and the Censorship Compliance Unit of the Department of Internal Affairs via the Child Alert Hotline.