One in Four New Zealanders Impacted as SMS, Phone and Email Scamming Surges to Record Levels

Auckland, New Zealand, March, 2024 – More than one in four adult New Zealanders (or about 1.5 million people) has interacted with a scam message, and ten percent of New Zealand adults have lost money from a scam, according to a new report from Honeycomb Strategy and

Additionally, 58 percent of adult New Zealanders have received scam messages weekly or more often through email, SMS or phone calls, with 26 percent reporting they receive them at least daily, the research has found.

These findings are amongst the dire revelations contained in the first “State of Digital Trust” report – an in-depth survey of 1000 Australian and New Zealanders about their experiences and attitudes towards scamming and communication channels with the brands they rely on daily for banking, retail and other necessities. The report was compiled by Honeycomb Strategy on behalf of, a leading global provider of in-app engagement solutions.

Carried out in January 2024, the inaugural “State of Digital Trust” report asked 800 Australians and 200 New Zealanders, over the age of 18, a series of questions about their interaction with scams they experienced in communicating with everyday, vital services such as banking and finance, entertainment and travel.

The report highlighted that while not the most commonly used due to its relatively new adoption, in-app messaging is already the most trusted form of communication when interacting with businesses, exceeding more commonly used, traditional methods such as email, SMS and phone calls.

In-app messaging involves users signing into a web or mobile application on their device prior to engaging in two-way activity, and sees the highest level of trust, ahead of all other channels including email, SMS, and phone calls, with 42 per cent of New Zealanders highly trusting the messages they receive through it.

John Bevitt, Managing Director of Honeycomb Strategy, said; “Time and time again, our research has demonstrated that consumer trust is the cornerstone of digital communication, and the State of Digital Trust report indicates it’s time to adapt.

“This research shows a decisive turn towards in-app messaging, with users seeking the security it offers over traditional channels that are more prone to scams. Nurturing this trust is critical, and in-app messaging is pivotal for businesses to connect with consumers on a secure, reliable platform”

Jo Haanstra, Acting CEO of, said; “The reality is organisations are letting down their customers when it comes to secure communications. The findings of this unprecedented research from Honeycomb confirm that in New Zealand (and Australia), phone, SMS and email-based scams are inundating customers on a daily basis. They are looking for more secure channels to communicate with the brands they rely on. And while not yet the most widely used channel, in-app messaging is the most trusted form of communication when engaging with businesses, far surpassing conventional methods like email, SMS, and phone calls.

“New Zealanders trust in-app messaging’s ability to detect spam and are more comfortable sharing sensitive information through this channel. Our experience working with four of the five major banks in New Zealand, one of the largest wealth management institutions, as well as global brands like Movember and SS&C Health, has taught us that customers currently have high levels of mistrust here with brands and are urgently asking for a more secure way to communicate. We welcome initiatives in this area by regulators and industry associations in New Zealand to tackle this issue.”

Key findings from the State of Digital Trust report

Email and SMS based scams are at an all-time high:

  • 26 per cent of adults in New Zealand have interacted with a scam message at some point, believing it was legitimate .
  • 1 in 10 adult New Zealanders say they have lost money from a scam message. Almost one quarter (24 per cent) receive scam messages from email at least daily, and 51 per cent receive them at least weekly.
  • Customers who have been victim to a scam are 1.5 times more likely to mistrust emails in the future – meaning organisations are facing an urgent issue for their primary channel.
  • Chatbots and social media messages are the least trusted channels.

Preference of in-app notifications/ messaging is driven by greater security:

  • 42 per cent New Zealanders expressed high trust in in-app messaging, while social media and chatbots are significantly less trusted.
  • New Zealanders agree that phishing and scam messages are getting harder to recognise.

Interest and use of alternative communications platforms is on rise:

  • Almost 1 in 4 people in New Zealand (24 per cent) have interacted with businesses via in-app messaging in the past month.
  • 21 per cent of New Zealanders prefer to communicate with banks and financial institutions through in-app messaging.

Security is key to trust in key industries such as banking and finance:

  • Higher trust in in-app messaging is largely related to the authentication measures in place and having trust in the authenticity of apps themselves.
  • 42 per cent of New Zealanders expressed high trust in in-app messaging, surpassing emails as the most trusted method.
  • The industry where consumers most prefer in-app messaging to come from is banking and finance, followed by entertainment, and travel. This is due to consumers trusting apps more (21 per cent of people say in-app messaging is their preferred channel to receive messages from banks or other financial institutions, with 7 per cent preferring it for government agencies/departments and 15 per cent for travel, and 18% for utilities)
  • Direct messages through social media and Chatbots are the least trusted channels with over a third showing low trust in the legitimacy of each.

Demographics matter:

  • People in older generations continue to prefer emails as their preferred method of communication, despite being significantly more likely to feel that phishing and scam messages are getting harder to recognise.
  • 68 per cent of under 55-year-olds agree that in-app messaging effectively detects and prevents spam (vs 36 percent of 55 and over year olds).

The State of Digital Trust report, which will be repeated in coming months, comes after similar findings from other sources about the impact of SMS and email-based scams on consumer trust.

About ATOMIC.IO is the global leader for in-app engagement solutions. We’re transforming the way you connect with your customers by tapping into a powerful yet underutilised channel – your app. We understand that your app is the most impactful avenue for engaging with your customers, delivering higher read rates and conversion rates compared to traditional communication methods like SMS, calls, or email. With our platform, we empower organisations of all sizes to deliver timely and actionable messages precisely where their customers want them. 

Founded in New Zealand, and backed by Rod Drury (Founder of Xero), Movac, and K1W1, powers next generation customer engagement for some of Australia and New Zealand’s biggest names, including ANZ, Westpac, BNZ, Foodstuffs North Island, Kiwibank and Movember. For more visit

*2022 Email Marketing Benchmarks Report.

About the Honeycomb Strategy

Honeycomb Strategy is Australia’s leading boutique market research agency. Honeycomb is taking insights to new heights, lighting the way to breakthrough decisions. The full-service agency boasts an impressive portfolio of leading tech, retail and digital service clients and is widely recognised for its ground-breaking work and best-in-class culture. Accolades include B&T Research Agency of the Year finalists in 2023 & 2022, SmartCompany Smart Workplaces 2023, SmartCompany Smart50 2022, and The Australian Financial Review Fast Starters 2020.

For more visit

Media Contact

Peter Witts
Navigate Communication
Ph + 61 477 274 412

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