UK Finance has warned of scam delivery text messages ahead of Christmas, as data has shown they are on the rise.
Figures provided to UK Finance by cybersecurity company Proofpoint showed in the final quarter of this year more than half of all reported ‘smishing’ text messages claimed to be from parcel and package delivery firms.
This proportion has more than tripled compared to the final quarter of 2020.
UK Finance said as more people are doing their Christmas and Boxing Day sales shopping online, criminals will be targeting the huge numbers of parcels being delivered across the country.
Often the fake text messages 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, it explained.
They offer a link to “a very convincing but fraudulent website” asking for personal and financial information.
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.”
Proofpoint operates the 7726 text message system on behalf of mobile phone operators, which allows customers to report suspicious texts.
Reports to the system are being used by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to take down fraudulent website URLs and prevent further fraud losses.
It is urging consumers to be on the lookout for scams and said social media platforms, online and auction websites are increasingly used by criminals to carry out these scams, where a customer pays in advance for goods or services that are never received.
Jacinta Tobin, vice president of Cloudmark Operations for Proofpoint, said: “Consumers need to be very sceptical of mobile messages that come from unknown sources. And 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.”
Earlier this month, the Financial Conduct Authority launched its first ever Christmas jingle in a bid to protect consumers against loan fee fraud over the festive period.
The anti-fraud jingle came as last year the FCA received 32 per cent more loan fee fraud calls per month across the festive season than the rest of the year, with one in 20 calls between November and January reporting an instance of loan fee fraud.