Christmas shoppers warned of scam parcel delivery texts

Experts warn the proportion of reported scam texts which are about deliveries has more than tripled compared with a year ago.

Vicky Shaw
Thursday 23 December 2021 13:30
Last-minute Christmas shoppers are being warned that scam delivery text messages are on the increase (Yui Mok/PA)
Last-minute Christmas shoppers are being warned that scam delivery text messages are on the increase (Yui Mok/PA)

Last-minute Christmas shoppers are being warned that scam delivery text messages are on the increase.

With many people ordering online this Christmas, huge numbers of parcels are being expected by households in the coming days.

UK Finance, a trade association representing banks and other financial firms, said just over half (55.94%) of all reported “smishing” text messages in the final three months of this year have claimed to be from parcel delivery firms.

This has more than tripled since the same period in 2020, when 16.37% bogus texts were about parcels.

UK Finance obtained the figures from cybersecurity company Proofpoint, which operates the 7726 text message system on behalf of mobile phone operators. The system allows customers to report suspect texts.

The reports are being used by the National Cyber Security Centre to take down fraudulent website URLs and prevent further losses to scams.

Fake texts often claim the courier has been unable to make a delivery and ask the recipient to pay a fee or provide additional details in order to rearrange delivery.

There is then a link to a fake website asking for personal and financial information.

UK Finance is also warning shoppers to look out for purchase scams.

It said social media platforms and auction websites are increasingly being used by criminals to carry out these scams, in which a customer pays in advance for goods or services that are never received.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Scrooge-like criminals are using the festive season to try and trick people out of their cash. Whether you’re shopping online or waiting for deliveries over the festive period, it’s important to be on the lookout for scams.

“Don’t let fraudsters steal your Christmas – always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and stop and think before parting with your information or money.”

The Take Five campaign urges people being contacted out of the blue to take a pause to think before handing over any money or personal details. Criminals will often try to manipulate people to act without thinking their requests for cash or information through, perhaps by putting them under pressure or being polite and charming.

The campaign reminds people that it is OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests.

Jacinta Tobin, vice-president of Cloudmark Operations for Proofpoint, said: “Consumers need to be very sceptical of mobile messages that come from unknown sources.

“It’s important to never click on links in text messages, no matter how realistic they look. If you want to contact the purported vendor sending you a link, do so directly through their website and always manually enter the web address/URL.

“For offer codes, type them directly into the site as well. It’s also vital that you don’t respond to strange texts or texts from unknown sources. Doing so will often confirm you’re a real person to future scammers.”

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