UK Finance warns of increased risk of delivery scam texts

UK Finance is warning people to be wary of delivery scam text messages ahead of Christmas, as new data highlights they are on the rise.

With ever more people doing their Christmas and Boxing Day sales shopping online, there will be huge numbers of parcels being delivered across the country, something criminals are targeting.

Figures provided to UK Finance by cybersecurity company Proofpoint reveal that so far in the final quarter of this year, over 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 - as shown in the table below.

Often these fake text messages claim that 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. There is then a link to a very convincing but fraudulent website asking for personal and financial information.

Proofpoint operates the 7726 text message system on behalf of mobile phone operators, which allows customers to report suspicious texts. Each year within the UK it receives millions of text messages reported as spam. The data shown in the table below covers those categorised as smishing.

UK Reported Smishing 

Q4 2020

Q4 2021 (so far)

Parcel / Package Notification

16.37%

55.94%

Financial / Banks

44.57%

11.73%

Merchant & Consumer Brands

3.42%

4.35%

Media & Comms Providers

14.27%

6.55%

Miscellaneous and Other

21.36%

21.42%

Reports to the 7726 system are being used by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to take down fraudulent website URLs and prevent further fraud losses.

Consumers are also urged be on the lookout for purchase scams. 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.

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.

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.

The Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign urges the public to remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.  They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you?ll let your guard down for just a moment. Stop and think. It could protect you and your money.

  • STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
  • CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It's ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you?ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

Notes to editor

<ol start="1" type="1"><li>
Consumers can report suspicious text messages by forwarding the message to SMS number 7726, which spells out SPAM on a phone keypad.</li>
<li>
For more information or screenshots of delivery scam text messages please call the UK Finance press office on 020 7416 6750 or email <a data-auth="NotApplicable" data-linkindex="10" href="mailto:press@ukfinance.org.uk&quot; rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">press@ukfinance.org.uk</a>.</li>
<li>
<a data-auth="NotApplicable" data-linkindex="11" href="https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.u…; rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">UK Finance</a> is the collective voice for the banking and finance industry. Representing more than 300 firms across the industry, we act to enhance competitiveness, support customers and facilitate innovation.</li>
<li>
Proofpoint is a provider of omnichannel cybersecurity and compliance solutions. Proofpoint?s Cloudmark division is focused on messaging security, offering solutions for mobile messaging (SMS, MMS, RCS) and email. Cloudmark?s solutions are the most widely integrated platform in carriers? messaging infrastructures and are used by over 150 of the world?s leading service providers. These Cloudmark solutions process tens of billions of messages with reputation and content filtering of over four billion messages per day.</li>
<li>
The Cloudmark division offers the industry's fastest and most accurate anti-spam, anti-phishing, anti-smishing, and anti-virus messaging security solutions for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), messaging providers such as CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service), MaaP (Messaging as a Platform) providers, and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Cloudmark also provides mobile smishing protection for major brands. Cloudmark threat data feeds and insight are instrumental tools in identifying smishing attack campaigns and providing intelligence to brands to protect and notify their customers while also enabling the preservation of their brand reputation.  </li>
<li>
The banking and finance industry is committed to tackling fraud and scam texts including through:</li>
</ol><ul class="rteindent1" type="disc"><li>
Fully funding a specialist police unit, the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), which tackles the organised criminal groups responsible for financial fraud and scams.</li>
<li>
Working with text message providers and law enforcement to <a data-auth="NotApplicable" data-linkindex="12" href="https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.u…; rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">block</a> scam text messages including those exploiting the Covid-19 crisis. 1087 unauthorised sender IDs are currently being blocked to prevent them being used to send scam text messages mimicking trusted organisations, including over 70 related to Covid-19. </li>
<li>
Working with <a data-auth="NotApplicable" data-linkindex="13" href="https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.o…; rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Ofcom</a> to crack down on number spoofing, which has prevented criminals from spoofing the phone numbers of trusted organisations, including HMRC. </li>
<li>
<a data-auth="NotApplicable" data-linkindex="14" href="https://eur01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Ftakef…; rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Take Five to Stop Fraud</a> is a national campaign that offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help everyone protect themselves from preventable financial fraud.</li>
</ul>