Millions of mobile phone users are being warned of potential text scams in the lead-up to Christmas, peaking today on what is being dubbed “Super Saturday”.
The BT-owned EE network has said cyber criminals could try to take advantage of the busy last-minute shopping period to issue delivery-style scams, suggesting parcels are waiting to be dropped off or their delivery has been missed.
The techniques could trick recipients into clicking links through which they may unwittingly install malware (malicious software), or be taken to a phishing page aimed at harvesting personal and financial data.
EE said it managed to block around three million SMS scams that were heading to customers’ phones on this day last year.
The company anticipates it will stop up to five million such scams this month. It also said it had blocked more than 45 million scam texts so far in 2023.
EE said in a statement: “The most common SMS scams in December are delivery-related, as shoppers rush to organise last-minute parcels in time for the holiday period.
“These include missed delivery or track delivery text scams, which prompt customers to click on links that give criminals the opening they need to steal consumers’ data or money.”
The firm is urging consumers to remain scam-aware, especially over the next couple of weeks, when the stress of holiday preparations could “cloud judgement and result in people dropping their guard”.
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Jonny Bunt, EE’s director of regulatory affairs for the consumer division of BT Group, said: “Super Saturday is set to be the busiest day of the year for high-street retailers.
“With deliveries piling up on the doorstep, scammers will be looking for ways to take advantage of the festive frenzy.
“As one of the UK’s first lines of defence against SMS scam texts, we have clear sight of the threat level here at BT and EE and are already seeing a concerning spike in delivery scams in particular.”
It has issued some tips on how to stay scam safe:
• Never click on a link in a text from an unknown source
• Trust your instincts, and if something looks suspicious, there’s probably a catch
• Keep your device software up to date
• Never give out bank details, passwords or security codes on a website you’ve linked to
• If your bank phones you, consider calling them back on a published number or using the 159 service
• If you get an expected call from someone, if in doubt put the phone down and call back on a number you trust
• If you receive a suspicious text, forward the phone number and incident to 7726, free of charge, for your mobile provider to investigate
• Once reported, block the number and notify others of the scam, so they can avoid falling victim.