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Christmas delivery scam texts surge prompts consumer warning

Scam texts
Consumers have been warned not to fall prety to scam texts. Photo: Getty (boonchai wedmakawand via Getty Images)

As more Brits do their holiday shopping online, there has been an increase of scam text messages claiming they are from package delivery firms and tricking consumers into giving them personal data.

UK Finance, a banking industry body, has issued a warning asking people to be wary of such delivery scam text messages.

Figures provided to UK Finance by cybersecurity company Proofpoint showed that so far in the final quarter of this year, over half of all reported ‘smishing’ text messages – a phishing cybersecurity attack carried out over mobile text messaging - claimed to be from parcel delivery firms.

This proportion has more than tripled compared to the final quarter of 2020.

Often these fake text messages claim that the courier has been unable to make a delivery and will ask the recipient to pay a fee or provide additional details. The message will include a link to a "very convincing" but fraudulent website asking for personal and financial information.

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

She said it’s important to never click on links in text messages, no matter how realistic they look. If there is a need to contact the vendor the message is from, it should be done directly through their website by manually entering the URL.

Read more: Dangerously inaccurate thermometers sold on Amazon and eBay, Which? warns

“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.”

Consumers are also urged be on the lookout for purchase scams. Social media platforms, online and auction websites are used by criminals to carry out these scams, where a customer pays in advance for goods or services that are never received.

“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,” said Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance.

“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.”

This campaign reminds consumers that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police. They spend hours researching targets for their scams, hoping they will let their guard down for just a moment.

UK Finance said shoppers must stop and take a moment to think before parting with money or information, and question if a message could be fake.

"It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests," it said, adding "only criminals will try to rush or panic you."

The last stem is to always contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam, and report it to Action Fraud.

Watch: Why your bank statements might say buy-now-pay-later without you realising