A new study by consumer group Which? has found that three in five people have received fake delivery scam texts over the last year.
A significant rise in sophisticated scamming and phishing activity has been seen throughout the pandemic, with fresh warnings issued to the public on a regular basis.
Scammers have been carrying out fraudulent activity under the guise of just about everything from Amazon Prime and hot tub sales companies, to social media platforms such as Facebook, and even the NHS in recent months. But one of the most prevalent scams is fake delivery texts.
Messaging scams have boomed as the pandemic confined millions of us to our homes and we became increasingly reliant on deliveries, with fraudsters posing as couriers and delivery companies in an attempt to trick people into handing over bank details via text.
A Which? survey of over 2,000 people in May revealed that three in five people (61%) had received a fake delivery text in the past year.
Of those who received the scam text messages claiming to be from a delivery company, four in five (79%) said they realised it was fake straight away but 3% said they lost money to the scam.
The scam most often reported to Which? in the past three months has been fake text messages – also known as ‘smishing’ (SMS phishing) – pretending to be from the Royal Mail. 70% of one surveyed group received the Royal Mail scam text.
The message usually requests a small payment for a parcel to be delivered and a link to a copycat Royal Mail website, with victims then called by scammers to try to trick them into sending large sums of money.
DHL, DPD and Hermes were the other most-commonly impersonated companies in the survey, with roughly one in three (32%) reporting scam texts.
One in eight scam texts (12%) impersonated UPS over text.
To test the reach of the scams, Which? created four new mobile phone accounts – one with each of the UK’s biggest phone networks – and within two weeks, two of the numbers had received scam text messages, despite never having been used before.
Speaking on the research findings, Adam French – Consumer Rights Expert at Which? – said: “Our research shows how fraudsters have bombarded Britain with scam delivery texts on an industrial scale as they try to exploit the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic.
“Couriers and the telecoms industry must take further steps to protect consumers, by making it harder for fraudsters to exploit systemic weaknesses to reach potential victims, and by making people more aware of how to spot such scams.”
He also added that consumers can sign up to Which?’s scam alert service to keep themselves informed about the latest tactics used by fraudsters.
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