These tactics involve posing as the Royal Mail, with a “highly convincing” text currently making the rounds - the text claims to have been sent from the Royal Mail and says that the recipient must pay a shipping fee in order to receive their delivery.
The text message in question says: “Royal Mail: Your package has been held and will not be delivered due to a £1.99 unpaid shipping fee.”
Another similar version of this text also reads: “Royal Mail: Please pay your dispatch fee immediately at [link] or your letter will be returned to sender.”
Both versions provide a link for the recipient to click in order to pay their fee, which is a scam designed to lure victims into sharing their bank details.
Royal Mail states: “Please don’t click on any links and be vigilant if you receive a communication which you aren’t sure about.”
Tony Pepper, CEO of cyber security firm Egress, said: "As the world continues to rely on digital communication channels wherever possible, we've seen an inevitable surge in phishing activity over the last year, with cyber criminals sending out highly convincing emails posing as trusted organisations.
"Unfortunately, these recent emails claiming to be from the Royal Mail are part of the latest scheme aimed at tricking people into parting with their money – and in many cases are using incredibly sophisticated tactics to do so."
‘Never follow any links in SMS messages’
Ray Walsh, Digital Privacy Expert at ProPrivacy, advised, “Anybody in the UK that receives a text message purporting to be from a delivery service must remember that it could be a scam and that they should never follow any links contained in SMS messages or provide their information to the sender.
“If you are expecting a parcel and have not received it yet, contact the retailer or delivery service directly to rectify it and ignore any incoming messages that attempt to make you part with personal information.
“Scammers use cleverly worded messages that employ urgency to trick their victims, so if you get a text message that tells you to act quickly to secure your parcel it is vital not to panic or you could end up having your data stolen.”
How to spot a scam
There are a number of ways that you can spot a scam or fake message. Things to look out for include:
- Checking the ‘from’ address - is it from a company or organisation, or from a random email address or phone number? It should be worth noting that scammers often change their names to make the emails look like they’re from a legitimate company, but it’s always worth checking
- Is the greeting impersonal? Royal Mail says that fraudsters “often use subjects or greetings that are impersonal and general”
- Is there poor spelling, grammar or presentation? While scammers are getting better at making their messages look more professional, a more common thing to look out for it lack of consistency in the email, like different font styles or sizes, and mismatching logos
If you’re unsure about the message you’ve received in any way, you should always err on the side of caution.
Reach out to the company that is supposedly trying to communicate with you in a way that is completely separate from the message.
Don’t use any phone numbers, email address or linked websites. Instead, search for the company and use a different number or email address, from its website for example.
The Royal Mail has been the target of scammers and fraudsters before, and as such, has compiled helpful advice about staying safe.
Royal Mail says:
- Never send sensitive, personal information, security details or credit card numbers by email
- Never click on a link in an email if you are unsure about it, especially if it asks for personal financial information, this might attempt to install malware on to your computer
- Make sure you have a spam filter on your email account
How to report a scam message
If you have received a suspicious text message from someone claiming to be the Royal Mail, you should report it to [email protected]
For suspicious text messages, you should send a screenshot of the message to the above email address.
Alternatively you can forward the scam text to 7726.
You can also report the scam to Action Fraud.
For scams in or from Scotland, you should contact Police Scotland on the 101 telephone service.