CUSTOMERS with the UK’s major banks are being warned about phoney text message scams that could steal your personal details and cash.
The warning by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) affects customers with Barclays, Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds Bank.
It comes after the trading standards association said it had received “considerable evidence” of banking scams sent via text messages.
The scam texts typically pretend to be security messages from a bank requesting confirmation of a payment made from a device not used before.
They also asked the customer to tap a link to confirm a payment to a named person.
All of the messages included links that requested your bank login details, and by giving yours away, you’d put yourself at serious risk of fraud.
The warning comes as more and more people make digital payments, often through mobile phones, during the coronavirus crisis.
We’ve explained how to spot that the text messages are fake below.
Katherine Hart, a lead officer at CTSI, said: “I am witnessing so many reports of this scam; indeed, I have received multiple versions of it on my phone.
“The public is very vulnerable to this type of fraud, especially when more people rely on online payments.
“Fraudsters change the form and methods of their scams to match shifting consumer behaviour.
“The surge in online shopping and payments means that the public must be more vigilant when making online payments and receiving messages claiming to be from their bank.”
How to spot a scam
BY keeping these things in mind, you can avoid getting caught up in a scam.
- A genuine bank or organisation will never ask you to hand over your PIN, cards, cash, or transfer money to a new account.
- Look for grammatical and spelling errors; fraudsters are notoriously bad at writing proper English. If you receive a message from a “friend” informing you of a freebie, consider whether it’s written in your friend’s normal style.
- If you’re invited to click on a URL, hover over the link to see the address it will take you to – does it look genuine?
- To be on the really safe side, don’t click on unsolicited links in messages, even if they appear to come from a trusted contact.
- Be careful when opening email attachments too. Fraudsters are increasingly attaching files, usually PDFs or spreadsheets, which contain dangerous malware.
- Check that the phone number is genuine. You’ll find company telephone numbers on bills, statements or their website.
- Don’t rely on the caller display on your phone or SMS messages pertaining to be from your bank – fraudsters can manipulate these. Just because the number on the back of your card is the same, it doesn’t mean it’s the bank calling.
- Check that the website is secure and read reviews. Before you enter any sensitive information (such as payment details), look for “https” at the start of the website address – and a padlock or key icon next to the address bar on your device.
If you receive a text message like this, and you’re unsure if it’s real, make sure you contact your bank directly and verify it with them.
It’s also worth forwarding any scam texts to 7726, which is a free reporting service run by regulator Ofcom.
To report a scam, you should contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use its online fraud reporting. You should also let your bank know.
A spokesperson for HSBC told The Sun: “We would encourage customers to keep abreast of the latest scams to help protect themselves from these unscrupulous criminals.
“They can do this on a dedicated page on our website that they can easily bookmark and revisit.“
While Jim Winters, head of fraud at Barclays, added: “As fraudsters and their techniques become increasingly sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant to the threat of scams.
“Do not click on any link or open an attachment on any e-mail or text you receive which you weren’t expecting.”
“Also do not rely on the caller display on your phone or text messages claiming to be from your bank or another organisation – fraudsters can change their number so it looks like a real company is calling.
“If you’re in doubt, hang up and call them on a number you have verified and can trust.”
Trade body UK Finance told The Sun it’s working with telecoms regulator Ofcom to crack down on number spoofing.
Katy Worobec, its managing director of economic crime, added: “Criminals are ruthlessly exploiting this pandemic to commit fraud, impersonating banks to trick people into giving away their money or information.
“The banking and finance industry is tackling fraud on every front, investing millions in advance technology to protect customers and working closely with the government and law enforcement to stop the criminal gangs responsible and neutralise the threat.”
The Sun has also contacted Halifax and Lloyds Bank for comment.
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Earlier this month, fraudsters used the census survey to target vulnerable Brits to scam them out of thousands of pounds.
We also reported how scammers are targeting the millions of shoppers waiting for a parcel with a new Royal Mail text message con.
Fraudsters are also using bogus NHS emails and texts to make people pay for these vaccines or hand over their bank details.