The text and email scams you should know about

3 min read
April 19, 2021

Earlier this year we published our scams guide, with tips on how to avoid being duped by these ever-convincing and creative fraudsters. But with the magnitude of text messages, phone calls and emails claiming to be from well-known companies only rising, we wanted to highlight some of the latest examples you may (hopefully not) be seeing.

Here’s a round-up of the latest text, email and phone scams to watch out for:

Texts from a ‘bank’

No bank appears to be immune from being imitated by scammers – and many of us will likely ignore a text from a ‘bank’ we’ve had nothing to do with. But if you get a text from a bank you use, you can’t be blamed for second-guessing whether it is real or not. However, if a bank is claiming they have authorised a new payment from your account, or that your account has been fraudulently accessed, then it is almost certainly not going to do so by sending you a text message. 

If you have any uncertainties at all then don’t directly link the link in the text. Contact your bank directly through their official email address or their phone number (located either on their website or on the back of your debit and credit cards) to check out the issue.

Texts from your ‘mobile phone provider’

Often the hardest to spot, as your provider will often genuinely send you text messages to give you news of promotions and offers. However, we are still seeing incidents of people getting texts from numbers claiming to be their ‘provider’ with details of ‘missed payments’, once again asking you to click a link to sort the matter out.

Do not do this – contact your provider directly if you have any concerns about the text. 

Texts or emails from a ‘courier’ firm

This is one of the increasing types of scams and seems to be impersonating many of the well-known delivery firms including DPD, Hermes and Royal Mail.

A text message is sent telling you either that you need to redirect or rebook a missing delivery, or that you owe fees to receive a package. You will be then directed to click on a link that will give you a convincing looking site to fill in your details.

As with any of these types of text, treat with caution and report it directly to the delivery firm. Even if you are expecting a parcel at the time, you should always be careful of anything that asks you to call a number without checking it first, or clicking on a link. We’ve got a couple of examples below.

Texts, emails or calls from ‘HMRC’

These tend to fall into three main categories:

  1. Being told you are due a rebate
  2. Being told you are being investigated for tax-related fraud or issues
  3. Being told your National Insurance number has been compromised and you need to register for a new one.

These are all scams and certainly HMRC will never call you or text you out of the blue. If you receive anything you feel is suspect then contact HMRC directly to report the message.

Calls telling you ‘your internet is being disconnected’

We’ve also heard reports from people being called on their mobile phones to be faced with an automated message saying ‘This is important, your internet is being disconnected’ – the timeframe quoted can be anywhere from within a couple of days to four hours. Understandably with our internet connection being one of our main doors to the outside world, even now, this can be a stressful message to receive, and it’s designed to prompt urgency for you to react and connect to the call.

Be vigilant – even if this automated message says it’s coming from your provider, hang up. No provider would set up an automated messaging service like this if such a problem like this is imminent – and it’s worth pointing out that if it’s a sudden outage then they’re unlikely to know until it’s happened.

What if you’ve fallen foul to a scam?

If you think you’ve been scammed, contact your provider immediately and explain what you think has happened. They will be able to check accounts there and then and block any transactions that you think 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:

  • Change any passwords relating to all of your accounts that have been affected – and even those that haven’t; 
  • Report a scam to the provider that was ‘imitated’ – even if it’s not one you regularly use.

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