Smishing reports increase nearly 700% in first six months of this year

Reports of text message scams – or smishing – increased by nearly 700% in the first six months of 2021 compared to the second half of 2020.

The figures from Proofpoint, reported by consumer group Which?, found there were three times as many parcel smishing attacks as there were banking smishing attacks.

This is likely to be a result of more people shopping online during the pandemic.

An SMS phishing scam often involves texts pretending to be from businesses.

They direct a customer to a dodgy link or phone number where they will enter personal details that can then be used by fraudsters.

Proofpoint operates a 7726 text service that enables people to report spam texts for free, while Which? launched its own scam reporter tool in March.

Which? said that it has received more than 9,000 reports of scams via text or phone since the tool was created.

But, while the scams have obvious dangers for customers, they are also making things difficult for businesses, with 71% of people saying they no longer trust texts from companies.

Which? director of policy and advocacy Rocio Concha said businesses should play their part by not using hyperlinks and phone numbers in their messages where possible.

Meanwhile, fraud prevention body Cifas and Mobile UK have warned that facility takeover fraud has increased by 88% over the past three years in the telecommunications sector, with over 17,500 instances recorded in 2020.

Facility takeover fraud is when a fraudster is able to take control of a mobile phone account, usually after tricking the real customer into revealing personal details.

Cifas’ head of fraud intelligence Amber Burridge said: “If you receive a call from someone purporting to be a mobile phone company offering you a new mobile phone or an upgrade, always be sceptical and challenge the caller.”

Gareth Elliott, head of policy and communications at Mobile UK, said: “We urge customers to remain vigilant and to help us act by texting reports of nuisance SMS to 7726, and reporting suspicious calls.”

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