Businesses urged to make customer messages ‘scam-proof’

The National Cyber Security Centre has issued new guidance to businesses on producing trustworthy communications in the wake of rising scams.

Martyn Landi
Wednesday 19 January 2022 00:01
Impersonation scam cases more than doubled in the first half of 2021 to 33,115, a finance industry trade association has said (PA)
Impersonation scam cases more than doubled in the first half of 2021 to 33,115, a finance industry trade association has said (PA)

The UK’s cyber security agency has issued new guidance on how businesses can better produce communications customers can trust following a rise in messaging scams posing as popular brands.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has asked firms to follow nine steps when contacting customers, including making messages simple and consistent, not asking for personal details and clearly publicising the company contact details they use to help customers more easily identify genuine communications.

It comes in response to an increase in scam phone calls, emails and text messages, including fake parcel deliveries and alerts from scammers posing as high street banks as more people turned to online shopping during the pandemic.

The NCSC said cyber criminals often look to capitalise on current trends to trick people into sharing sensitive personal information and said businesses doing more to clearly distinguish official communications was vital to combat the problem.

“Most of us will have received a suspected dodgy text or call during the pandemic and we know these scams are getting more convincing,” NCSC technical director, Dr Ian Levy, said.

“To counter this, we need legitimate customer text and telephone messages to be secure with clear signposts of authenticity that give confidence to customers.

“I’d urge any organisations that contact their customers via SMS or telephone to consult our new guidance and ensure they’re doing all they can to protect their customers from cyber crime and fraud.”

The guidance also advises businesses to use links in their messages “sparingly”, to provide a means for customers to contact them independently and guidance on how to report scams.

Anyone who believes they have received a scam message can forward it to 7726 – the UK’s scam text reporting service.

On the new tips, The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said: “Scammers are getting creative: copying messages and calls from major companies, faking parcel delivery texts or pretending to be our bank. It’s very easy to fall prey to these criminals.

“The Government is determined to make the UK the safest place to live and work online and, through our National Cyber Strategy are strengthening laws and working across society to fight malicious online activity.

“But businesses must also play their part to stop these criminals from destroying their reputations and stealing customers’ money. I urge them to work with the National Cyber Security Centre to ensure the public can trust when they are being contacted.”

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