Residents and businesses are being warned to look out for ‘smishing’ and ‘SMS spoofing’ scams as criminals seek to exploit the coronavirus pandemic.
Smishing is where a fraudster will send out a bogus text message purporting to be from a genuine organisation or business.
SMS Spoofing also involves the sending of fake text messages using specialist software.
However, in this case the messages appear in the chain of texts, next to genuine messages the mobile phone user has already received, making them harder to spot and appear more plausible. ‘Smishing’ and ‘SMS spoofing’ text messages may also be followed up by phone calls from the fraudsters.
The bogus text messages usually ask recipients to phone a number connected to the fraudsters or follow a link to a bogus copycat website. In doing so the fraudsters attempt to steal personal or financial information or trick people in to making payments to them.
A spike in such scams recently has prompted Warwickshire Trading Standards to issue a warning to residents and businesses.
Latest scam text messages to look out for include those that:
- Claim to link you to a GOV.UK website to claim COVID-19 relief payments, council tax or business rate ‘holidays’ or free school dinner funds or similar.
- Suggest you have been seen leaving your home on multiple occasions in breach of lock-down laws and levying ‘fines’.
- Offering “health supplements” that falsely claim to prevent you becoming infected with COVID-19.
- Appear to come from your bank and relate to mortgage holidays or other financial support (business or consumer).
Advice for residents and businesses
- Be wary of any text message you receive, even if it appears to come from an organisation you know and trust
- Don’t follow links in text messages or phone any numbers provided
- If you believe a text message is genuine and require more information, contact the organisation via their website by typing their genuine web address into your browser
- For more advice visit The Money Advice Service: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/how-to-spot-and-report-fake-text-message-and-smishing-scams