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Fake parcel delivery texts are the top SMS phishing scam

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

Scam text messages pretending to be from parcel delivery services are on the rise, according to figures from UK Finance, the banking trade body.

These fake texts represent more than half of all SMS phishing – or ‘smishing’ – attempts, while those pretending to be from a bank or other financial institution represent around a third.

The texts appear to be from a reputable organisation and often contain a link to a fraudulent copycat website, asking the victim to enter personal and financial information.

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.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Criminals are experts at impersonating a range of organisations and have capitalised on the pandemic, knowing that many of us will be ordering goods online and awaiting parcel deliveries at home.”

People who receive suspicious text messages are being urged to forward them to 7726, which spells out the word ‘SPAM’ on a keypad. This text message system is being used by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to take down fraudulent website URLs and prevent further fraud losses.

Sarah Lyons, NCSC deputy director for economy & society, said: “Scammers and cyber criminals regularly exploit well-known, trusted brands for their own personal gain, and sadly these latest findings bear that out.

“We would encourage people to be vigilant to any suspicious-looking text messages, which should be forwarded to 7726.”

The Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign  urges people to remember the Stop, Challenge, Protect behaviours and to recognise that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.

The advice is to:

  • Remember that criminals will 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.