Fake delivery scams have exploded during the pandemic, with more than 60% of Britons reporting receiving at least one such text in the past year, according to research by consumer rights group Which? Has revealed.
Scams are so prevalent that even brand new mobile numbers, which have not been shared, receive fraudulent text messages within days of new account creation.
Thanks to the pandemic, e-commerce has exploded in Britain and, in turn, has made fake deliveries a fruitful avenue for scammers looking to trick unsuspecting shoppers into handing over personal details and depleting their bank accounts. Text messages, which often claim that a package has missed its delivery deadline or requires a fee to be paid, are often the first point of support in a chain of attack that can cause victims to be tricked into emptying all your bank accounts.
While 70% of those who reported receiving a fraudulent text message said they realized what it was right away, one in 30 said they had lost money as a result of being cheated on.
To test the scope of the scams, which one? created four new mobile phone accounts, one with each of the UK’s largest phone networks. Within two weeks, two of the numbers had received fraudulent text messages, even though they had never been used before.
“Our research shows how scammers have bombarded Britain with fraudulent text messages on an industrial scale while attempting to exploit the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic,” said Adam French, the organization’s consumer rights expert.
“Couriers and the telecommunications industry must take more steps to protect consumers, making it harder for scammers to exploit systemic weaknesses to reach potential victims and making people more aware of how to spot these types of scams.
“In the meantime, people can subscribe to the Which? Scam alert service to keep themselves, their friends and family informed about the latest tactics used by scammers.”
In the first week of December 2020, Action Fraud, the UK-wide fraud reporting hub, said it had heard from 35 victims who lost a total of £ 103,000 in a single scam campaign falsely claiming to be from DPD .
Katy Worobec, Economic Crime Director at industry body UK Finance, said: “Always take a moment to stop and think before parting ways with your information or money, and avoid clicking on links in an email or text message at in case it is a scam.. “
According to an investigation by the identity protection firm’s callsign, a quarter of Internet users worldwide reported receiving more messages from scammers than from friends and family. When spam emails were taken into account, the average user received more than 1,000 fraudulent messages a year, the company said.