Consumers, who have been the target of numerous spoofing scams, have lost an average of £6,000 through fraudster activity, according to research by Resolver.
Resolver found, through its complaints data, more than 110 complaints over the past 18 months directly to banks and the tax office (HMRC) that explicitly mention being contacted by someone pretending to be from their financial provider.
Of these, more than eight in 10 detailed having money taken from their accounts – with the average amount standing at £6,277.
The scams, where callers ‘mirror’ a number that matches your bank’s or other organisations such as HMRC to dupe you into thinking you are talking to your provider, have been prevalent through most of 2021. They are particularly concerning because in many cases you’re even asked to check the phone number to convince you further that you’re talking to the company in question.
What’s more worrying, is that a number of these consumers were complaining not just to recover their money, but against their bank for its unwillingness to assist or even keep in touch with developments on their case.
“The fraudster made a couple of mistakes which triggered me to question the call and I straight away called the bank back on a different number. I was then told once all the info was taken from me that I would be contacted by the bank within two weeks, it is now over five weeks on and I have not once been contacted.”
Parcel text scams
We also found more than 200 complaints from consumers to delivery firms that involved them being sent a text from a scammer pretending to be the firm and asking either for payment for a redelivery, or to enter personal details on a convincing-looking website to hack into your accounts.
This scam, which is perhaps more publicised, was less believable with our consumers with only a handful having gone ahead and either made the payment or entering their details on request. The majority were actively trying to report the existence of the scam to the courier firm in question.
“The message states that the driver tried to deliver a parcel. A link asks me to give my card number to pay £1.45 to have it redelivered. How do I know this isn’t a scam?”
WhatsApp and Messenger scams
A growing phenomenon in this already ‘beware, be aware’ world of scam tactics is WhatsApp messaging.
Resolver is concerned we’re receiving complaints to banks involving texts from WhatsApp to targets that are from scammers pretending to be a friend or relative asking for money to be transferred. Amounts can vary, but we are aware of transfers made under this type of scam from the small hundreds to more than £1,000.
“I received a message on Messenger from who I thought was a friend of mine asking for financial help for a short period. My friend’s Facebook Profile had been hacked.”
What if you’ve been scammed?
If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your bank (or other provider of the account affected) immediately and explain what you think has happened. They will be able to check accounts there and then and block any transactions that may be about to occur. It’s also worth contacting the police and reporting the scam to Action Fraud, particularly if you notice money has already been taken from your accounts.
You should also:
Reporting a suspected scam
If you’re rolling your eyes at the fifth text you’re receiving demand payment for a parcel you’re not expecting or changes to details for a bank account you didn’t know you had, then that’s understandable. But the more of these that are reported, the more chance they have of being resolved – or even for awareness to be raised.
What’s more, it’s free to do – whatever you receive. For example, suspicious emails can be forwarded to email@example.com while if you think a website is dodgy you can report it in a minute to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which can investigate and remove scam sites.
If it’s a text you’ve received, then your mobile provider is likely to be part of a free scheme to report suspicious messages. Simply forward your message to 7726. Your mobile provider can investigate and at the very least block the sender.
If you think you’ve been had by, or at least received a questionable phone call, call 0300 123 2040 (or 101 if you live in Scotland).
Even if you can’t quite believe that the call or text you’re exposed to is a scam, be wary, don’t respond, and report it anyway. Chances are, you’re exposing a new threat, or at the very least adding to the volume that can be watched out for to protect fellow consumers.
Remember, scams are incredibly sophisticated, so if it sounds too good to be true, too threatening to be believed or sparks even the tiniest amount of doubt in your mind, it’s worth the caution.