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Caution urged over new Royal Mail scam

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Warnings have been raised over a new text message scam where fraudsters pose as the Royal Mail.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said it had received evidence of a new scam, where victims receive a text out of the blue which claims that a Royal Mail parcel is awaiting delivery. However, in order to receive the parcel the recipient is urged to click on a link and confirm ‘settlement’ of £1.99.

The link takes victims through to a website designed to look like an official Royal Mail platform, where they are invited to fill out their personal and payment details. This information could be used to steal the victim’s identity.

Last month the Royal Mail itself issued warnings about a similar scam, this time using email, where fraudsters impersonate the postal service in a bid to steal personal and financial details from recipients.

Katherine Hart, lead officer at the CTSI, noted that national and local lockdowns had increased our reliance on deliveries, and that this had provided a potentially lucrative opening to scammers.

She continued: “Royal Mail will only ever contact you via text or email if a customs fee is due, not for domestic parcel delivery. If you have any suspicions, contact Royal Mail to verify before you click any links or share details.”

Hart also pointed out that earlier this year similar scams have emerged using branding for the DPD delivery service, so it’s vital that we are all on our guard for any suspicious alerts about deliveries.

The warnings come after Which? has called for the government to take urgent action over the “devastating emotional toll of online scams”, with 2020 described as the worst year ever for scams.

How to spot a text scam

This sort of text-based scam is known as ‘smishing’, where a scammer will use a text message to try to dupe you into sharing your personal details.

There are plenty of different organisations that scammers may impersonate as part of the con. For example, you may receive a text supposedly from your bank warning that there is a problem with your account that needs immediate action, such as irregular activity of a lack of funds. Alternatively they could pose as the taxman promising a refund, or a technology provider like Apple of Google notifying you that you need to ‘validate’ an account.

The GetSafeOnline campaign has outlined some clear advice on how to avoid falling victim to such a scam. They include: 

Don’t click on links in text messages unless you are convinced they are genuine

Take time to consider your actions before responding to text messages

Ask yourself if the sender was genuine, would they really contact you via text?

If in doubt, call the organisation of individual the text has supposedly come from, using a number which you know is genuine, for example which you have obtained from their website

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