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Smishing meaning: what is SMS phishing, how to spot fraudulent texts, energy bill text message scam explained

UK Finance has issued warnings about a rise in “smishing”, or SMS phishing

<p>A woman uses a smartphone and a mobilephone in front of a laptop (Credit: Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images)</p>

A woman uses a smartphone and a mobilephone in front of a laptop (Credit: Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images)

The banking trade body UK Finance has issued warnings about a rise in “smishing”, or SMS phishing, which exploit fears about the cost of living crisis.

Scammers have been sending text messages ostensibly from major energy companies. Recipients are told that their energy will now be supplied by another provider, and as a result they need to set up a new direct debit. They will be prompted to give their details to the scammer, who fraudulently impersonate an energy company.

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While it is true that some energy providers have ceased trading in the face of financial pressure, bodies like Ofgem (the energy regulator) will not ever ask for personal information.

A spokesperson for Ofgem acknowledged the scams and said “Scammers may sometimes contact you pretending to be from Ofgem.”

“For example, a scammer might say they are from Ofgem and suggest you switch and then ask for your bank details.”

"These are scams. Ofgem [does not] sell energy or ask for personal information."

Such scams are not limited exclusively to SMS messages. It has also been reported that similar phishing scams are being carried out via telephone call and email.

Customers will be asked to follow links which take them to fake login pages - meaning that when they enter their login details, the scammers are able to record it.

Energy company Eon - which is one of several providers impersonated by scammers - warned that “We never ask for personal information, like passwords, payment details or your address.”

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