Parcel and package delivery scams are the most common type of 'smishing' text messages, a technique that criminals use to target consumers with texts impersonating trusted organisations.
These text messages often contain a link to a fraudulent website that replicates a legitimate site, asking the victim to enter personal and financial information.
Recently released figures revealed that over a 90-day period, the number of scam texts pretending to be from a delivery firm represented more than half of all smishing attempts.
Each year within the UK, millions of people report text messages. These can be reported by sending a message the 7726 number which is used by the National Cyber Security Centre to take down fraudulent website URLs and prevent further fraud losses
Criminals pretending to be from a bank or other financial institution represent around a third of texts.
Malicious texts are often part of a wider scam. If someone clicks on a link and provides information, they may then get a phone call from someone claiming to be from their bank.
Exploiting the personal and financial information provided in the text message, the person offers to help safeguard funds by trying to convince someone to transfer money into a 'safe account', which is in fact an account run by the same criminal that sent the original text message.
Reportedly last year scammers stole £479million from unsuspecting people through these scams. The actual figure is likely to be a lot higher given that much of it goes unreported.
How to avoid falling for smishing scams
- Many people recently fell victim to a Post Office email scam in which people were sent emails asking them to send a payment to release packages.
- In the email fraudsters told the recipient there is a parcel waiting for them but they must pay a shipping cost before it can be delivered. A link is then attached which, if clicked on/and or completed, could put the recipient at risk of fraud.
- Criminals send out smishing text messages with links leading to fake websites used to steal personal and financial information.
- These text messages may appear to be from trusted organisations and may use official branding to convince you they're genuine. Always access websites by typing them into the web browser and avoid clicking on links in texts.
- Remain vigilant and check delivery notifications very carefully to ensure they are genuine. Text messages may look very similar to those that are genuine but may use generic greetings, such as Dear Sir/Madam, or include spelling errors.
- Always question claims that you are due goods or services that you haven't ordered or are unaware of, especially if you have to pay any fees upfront.
- Customers can report suspected scam texts to their mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726.