If you’ve ever received a bizarre text message claiming you have a parcel “waiting for delivery”, it’s likely to be a fraudster waiting in the shadows to scam you.
More than a million scam texts are expected to be sent out across the country this week, and more than half will use parcel deliveries as a way to trick people into an unfortunate trap of fraud, the BBC reports.
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The scams, known as “smishing” fraud, are when SMS or text messages are sent out to individuals instead of emails, and tricks recipients into clicking on a dodgy link that steals personal information or downloads malicious software onto their phone.
Organisations monitoring “smishing” have warned people to be extra vigilant to avoid any unfortunate scams this Christmas.
Proofpoint, a cyber-security firm is seeing ten times more scam messages this year than last.
Vice president of operations Jacinta Tobin says fraudsters use fear to easily trick victims into clicking on external links.
She gave an example to the BBC: “We don’t want to miss that parcel or present. We are seeing more and more urgent messages warning packages will be returned unless action is taken.”
Jacinta added that organisations like hers have to act quickly because 98 per cent of people read a text on their phone within three minutes.
Royal Mail unfortunately bears the brunt of being one of the most highly impersonated parcel services used by fraudsters and this year alone has received thousands of frantic calls from concerned members of the public.
Around 60,000 people have called up the parcel delivery company saying they have received texts or emails from fraudsters pretending to be them.
As a result, 40,000 websites have been blocked or taken down within 24 hours that claim to be them.
Royal Mail smishing fraud often asks an individual to pay a parcel delivery fee through an SMS or text message, followed by clicking on a link.
If you’ve ever come across a text that reads: “Royal Mail: Your package has a £2.99 shipping fee, to pay this now visit royalmail-redelivery.support. Actions will be taken if you do not pay this fee”, it’s a scam.
Other Royal Mail scam texts sent by fraudsters often ask recipients to click on another link to arrange a redelivery.
It’s important to remember that if an individual really has missed a Royal Mail parcel, they will receive a red card through their letterbox.
Adam Christie, privacy manager at the Royal Mail told the BBC: “We love putting things through your letterbox. Do not make any payments until you also receive a card through the door.
“The business is doing everything it can to deliver Christmas to people – but we would urge people to be suspicious and not to click on any links they are sent unless they are 100 per cent certain it’s from us,” he continued.
Meanwhile Hermes are also aware that customers are receiving texts from fraudsters trying to impersonate them.
A spokesperson for Hermes told the BBC: “We’re aware of a phishing attempt claiming to be Hermes where individuals are receiving a text message including a link to pay for parcel delivery. We would never ask for payment in this way.”
Royal Mail and Proofpoint are urging people receiving phoney texts to report them so they can take further action. Only a quarter of recipients currently do this.
If you receive a suspicious looking text from ‘Royal Mail’, you can forward it to 7726 or on the Royal Mail website.
Have you ever been an unfortunate victim of smishing? Get in touch with Ruby at email@example.com
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