How to avoid falling for scam delivery text messages this Christmas

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Last-minute Christmas shoppers and Boxing Day sale hunters are being warned that scam delivery text messages are on the increase, as thousands of Brits received mysterious messages on their phones.

UK Finance, a trade association representing banks and other financial firms, said just over half (55 per cent) of all reported “smishing” text messages in the final three months of this year have claimed to be from parcel delivery firms. This is three times more than the same period last year when just 16% of the fake messages were about parcels.

UK Finance obtained the figures from cybersecurity company Proofpoint, which operates the 7726 text message system on behalf of mobile phone operators. The system allows customers to report suspect texts. The reports are then being used by the National Cyber Security Centre to take down fraudulent website URLs and prevent further losses to scams, reports City A.M.

The main type of scam delivery text messages used by these fraudsters claims a courier has been unable to make a delivery and ask the recipient to pay a fee or provide additional details in order to re-attempt the delivery. There is then a link to a fake website that asks for personal and financial information. UK Finance is also warning shoppers to look out for purchase scams.

It said social media platforms and auction websites are increasingly being used by criminals to carry out these scams, in which a customer pays in advance for goods or services that are never received.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Scrooge-like criminals are using the festive season to try and trick people out of their cash. Whether you’re shopping online or waiting for deliveries over the festive period, it’s important to be on the lookout for scams.

“Don’t let fraudsters steal your Christmas – always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and stop and think before parting with your information or money.”

Jacinta Tobin, vice-president of Cloudmark Operations for Proofpoint, said: “Consumers need to be very sceptical of mobile messages that come from unknown sources.

“It’s important to never click on links in text messages, no matter how realistic they look. If you want to contact the purported vendor sending you a link, do so directly through their website and always manually enter the web address/URL.

“For offer codes, type them directly into the site as well. It’s also vital that you don’t respond to strange texts or scam delivery text messages from unknown sources. Doing so will often confirm you’re a real person to future scammers.”

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Written by

Claire Gordon