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SCAM ALERT: spoof text messages are on the rise

SCAM ALERT: spoof text messages are on the rise

Category: Money

Updated: 28/06/2017
First Published: 15/01/2016

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Financial Fraud Action UK has reported a rising trend in spoof text messages, and is urging consumers to be on their guard.

The warning comes following an upsurge in messages that appear to be sent from the target's bank or a Government department, usually in a bid to steal their financial or personal information. Typically, the scam texts claim that there's been "suspicious activity" on the recipient's account or that their details need to be urgently updated or verified in some way, all of which are false.

Consumers are then encouraged to call a telephone number or visit a website to input their details, only for the information to be stolen by the fraudster – and in extreme cases, scammers have enough security information to access the victim's bank account.

The message is clear – don't believe everything you read! The texts often seem authentic, and in many cases the name of the bank or Government department will show up on the screen. They can even appear in an existing text message thread, but this is down to the specialist software used, and doesn't mean that the message contained is legitimate.

Even if the message appears legitimate, always question it before you follow any instructions. Be particularly cautious of any text message that asks you to provide passwords, sensitive information or to make transactions, and be wary of clicking a link in said message. Even if you're asked to call a phone number, always call your bank first on a number you trust to check its authenticity, and never call the number that the message comes from.

Remember that banks and Government departments will never ask for specific security information (such as PIN numbers or banking passwords) and they certainly won't ask you to verify your details or transfer money by following a link, so it could pay to be suspicious.

"We have seen a recent increase in attempts by fraudsters to use scam text messages to con people into giving away their security information," said Katy Worobec, Director of Financial Fraud Action UK. "Always be wary if you receive a message out of the blue asking you for any personal or financial details – never give this out unless you are absolutely sure who you are dealing with. If you're ever at all suspicious, call your bank on a number that you know."

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.