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Beware text fraudsters exploiting virus fears

Fraudsters are conning people using ‘smishing’ tactics

Consumers are being warned to be on the lookout for text message scams from criminals exploiting the coronavirus outbreak.

Criminals are using text messages in so-called “smishing” raids in which they impersonate other organisations to trick people into giving away their personal and financial information or money.

These scam texts often claim to be from government departments, banks or other trusted organisations, offering payments related to the coronavirus outbreak or claiming to be issuing fines.

Often the messages will include a link to a fake website that is designed to trick people into giving away their financial and personal information such as bank details, passwords and credit card numbers.

Criminals are also using a technique called “spoofing”, which can make a message appear in a chain of texts alongside previous genuine messages from that organisation.

The banking industry continues to work closely with mobile network operators, government and other industry stakeholders to crack down on this type of fraud.

UK Finance is urging consumers to avoid clicking on any links contained within text messages, and to always log into their bank account to update their information or make any legitimate payments.

We are urging consumers to remain vigilant and avoid clicking on links in any unsolicited text messages in case it’s a scam

– Katy Worobec, UK Finance

Customers can report suspected spam text texts to their mobile network provider by forwarding them to 7726.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Criminals are callously exploiting the coronavirus outbreak to commit fraud, including using scam text messages imitating government departments, banks and other trusted organisations.

“We are urging consumers to remain vigilant and avoid clicking on links in any unsolicited text messages in case it’s a scam. 

“It’s always safer to log into your bank account directly or contact the organisation on a trusted number or email such as the one on their official website.

“Always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information. If you receive a suspicious text message, report it to your network provider by forwarding it to 7726.”

Consumers are reminded to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.

Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse, or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.



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