TV Licence scam email UK: what does the phishing message look like, how to protect yourself and report emails

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Fraudsters are trying to get people’s bank details with two fake emails which claim to be from TV Licensing

Scammers have long been impersonating well-known companies in order to try to steal people’s details or money. From Amazon to Whatsapp and Royal Mail to Geek Squad, there are numerous fake texts, emails and phone calls to be aware of.

Now, fraudsters are targeting people by pretending to be from TV Licensing in two separate scams - and trying to persuade them to reveal their bank details.

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So, what do the fake TV Licence scams email look like, how can you tell they’re not genuine and what should you do if you receive one of them? Here’s everything you need to know.

What do the TV Licence scam emails say?

The emails, which appear to be from TV Licensing because they include the official TV Licence logo, claim that there is a problem with the payment method for making TV Licence payments or that a person is due a refund on a payment they’ve already made - but be warned they are completely fake.

As reported by consumer organisation Which, the first scam email reads: “Hello (your email address). As we couldn’t take the latest payment from your bank account, this amount will also need to be paid when you set up your new Direct Debit.

“Remember, if you don’t keep up with your payments, we may be forced to cancel your license or pass your details to a debt collection agency. To change your payment method, have a look at all your options.”

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It then goes on to say: “So, all you need to do is make sure there’s enough money in your account. Or, if you prefer to pay the missed amount now, you can sign in online and pay using your debit or credit card. While you’re signed in, please make sure we have your correct bank details.”

The email then includes a link titled “setup a new direct debit” to supposedly do just that, but it’s actually a form which scammers are hoping people will fill in and expose their bank details.

The second scam email, also reported by Which, reads: “You are eligible to receive a TV license refund but due to invalid records, we were unable to credit your account. Please submit the request and allow us 5-7 days to process it.”

There is then a URL given which starts with the official TV Licensing website, www.tvlicensing.co.uk, but then includes ‘.cs.update.your.licence’ followed by a series of random letters. Again, the scammers are hoping that people will give away their bank details, this time thinking that they are going to receive some money back in their account.

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There are two scam emails which claim to be from TV Licensing - here’s how to spot them.There are two scam emails which claim to be from TV Licensing - here’s how to spot them.
There are two scam emails which claim to be from TV Licensing - here’s how to spot them. | William - stock.adobe.com

How can I tell that the TV Licence emails are fake?

There are a few ways that you can tell the emails aren’t really from TV Licensing. Regarding the first missed payment email, there are three telltale signs that it is fake; the immediate request for new bank details, the sense of urgency created and the worry created around the idea that your service will be provided if the information is not given. Another indication is that the email is addressed to you via your email address as real communication from genuine companies will address you by your name, not your contact email.

Regarding the second refund email, the main telltale sign that it isn’t genuine is that the second part of the URL given is filled with random letters rather than proper words. There are also grammatical errors, such as the use of the American noun ‘license’ rather than UK noun ‘licence’.

TV Licensing has also confirmed to Which that these emails are not genuine. It said real emails and letters from them are personalised to include information such as your name, part of your postcode or your licence number.

TV Licencing have also put together a handy guide themselves to help their customers identify when communications claiming to be from them are actually fakes, and also when it is a genuine email, text, letter or phone call from themselves. You can view the TV Licensing ‘Stop. Ask. Check’ guide online.

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What should I do if I get the fake TV Licence emails?

If you receive either, or both, of the emails, the most important thing is to not panic and not click on the links given and submit your details. You should then report the emails to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or using their online reporting form. You can also forward these, and any other suspicious emails, to [email protected].

If you have engaged with the scammer and given out any of your personal information, or have already made a payment, contact your bank immediately. You should do this using the contact details for your bank as listed on the FCA register, so you can be sure you are actually speaking to someone at your bank. Your bank will then be able to guide you through what to do next.

You can also contact the Financial Conduct Authority’s consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 or report suspicious businesses or individuals online.

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