Parcel delivery scam texts: what is ‘smishing’ fraud message, how to spot one and where to report messages

Scammers look to exploit Christmas delivery delays for their own financial gain

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With many people shopping for Christmas presents online, there have been more orders out for delivery over recent weeks.

This has subsequently put further pressure on delivery services, from Royal Mail, Amazon and Hermes, among others, with delays commonplace.

With time tight between now and Christmas Day, some items won’t arrive at their destination until after 25 December much to everyone’s disappointment.

If you’re expecting a delivery, then a heightened sense of urgency is only natural, thus opening the door to scammers and other illegal operations trying to get your money.

Households across the UK are being warned of an increase in parcel delivery scam texts from numbers looking to extract money or other personal information through unknown links.

Here’s how to spot a fake delivery text message, what ‘smishing’ means, why scam texts are on the rise this Christmas 2021 and where to report fraudulent messages to the authorities...

What is ‘smishing’?

It’s the fraudulent practice of sending text messages pretending to be from reputable companies with the intention of misleading the recipient into parting with money or personal information.

The aim of ‘smishing’ messages is to deceive for financial gain by preying on the recipient’s fears, developing sophisticated techniques to tempt people into believing it is a real message.

How to spot a fake delivery message

Often, ‘smishing’ messages are delivered from unrecognisable numbers that won’t show up as known contacts on your phone.

Sometimes they will appear to be from a reputable company or organisation but upon closer inspection it can become clear it is a fraudulent message.

These can sometimes be hard to spot but it’s worth bearing in mind simple things that might give the scammers away, such as basic spelling and grammar mistakes.

Ask yourself ‘did I order anything from this company?’ and check to see if anyone else in your household did too - it can be a big giveaway and one that will give instant peace of mind.

‘Smishing’ messages will try to direct you to a website or get you to call a number, if you do not recognise either then don’t click on the link or make that call.

On the other end of that link will probably be an attempt to withdraw money, bank account details or personal information from you through malicious software or by request.

And always remember that messages sent from reputable companies and organisations tend to want to inform the recipient, rather than a call for action to be taken.

Why are parcel delivery scam texts on the rise?

It is estimated that more than a million scam text messages will be sent in the UK in the week leading up to Christmas.

Proofpoint, a cyber security company, is reportedly seeing 10 times more scam messages than this time last year, fuelled by Christmas delivery delays.

In what would normally be the busiest time of the year, delivery companies are feeling the extra strain brought on by the Covid pandemic and staff shortages through illness.

It’s this uncertainty that scammers are looking to exploit for their own profit by pocketing your hard earned money, while you are led to believe you are making payment for a service.

Where can I report fraudulent messages?

There are many different ways in which to report cyber crime.

If you are in receipt of a text message you suspect might be fraudulent then forward it to 7726 free of charge.

There are other ways to report fraud, too, by contacting Action Fraud as soon as possible by visiting or calling 0300 123 2040.

If you have information relating to a ‘smishing’ scam then you are urged to come forward and can do so completely anonymously via Crimestoppers at 0800 587 5030.

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