Ever received a text or call that seemed strange, suspicious or just too good to be true? Well, it could be one of the many fake text message scams or calls that are trying to catch you out. The prevalence of fake text and scam calls has surged, and they can pose a significant threat to our financial and personal security.
Almost every one of us has encountered, or knows someone who has faced, suspicious messages or calls that cleverly disguise themselves as the real thing. From impersonation frauds to counterfeit goods scams, these deceptive tactics are not just on the rise but alarmingly sophisticated. Around 87% of online adults in the UK have encountered content they suspected to be a scam or fraud. According to Ofcom, nearly half (46%) have been personally drawn in by an online scam, while 39% know someone else who has fallen victim.
But don’t worry, many of these scams can be stopped in their tracks before sinking their teeth in if you can spot the signs. Below, we’ll highlight what to look for and how to protect yourself against them, as well as how to report any you receive or find. Whether it’s a text about a fake parcel delivery or a call from a seemingly trustworthy source like a bank or direct lender, understanding the red flags is key.
As an FCA-authorised direct lender of short term loans, we want to help you stay one step ahead of the scammers and help protect your personal finances from fake text scams to scam call numbers.
What are Fake Text Message and Call Scams?
We live in a rapidly evolving digital era that brings plenty of convenience when it comes to our finances. However, the scammers are also rapidly evolving their tactics, finding new ways to trick innocent consumers into giving up their personal details and potentially defrauding them of hard-earned cash. The threat of fake text message scams and fraudulent calls is ever-present and understanding them is the first step towards protection from them.
Fraudsters can send unsolicited messages or make calls to unsuspecting individuals, aiming to trick them into revealing sensitive information, transferring funds, or even unknowingly installing malware. These scams take various forms, from bogus bank fraud warnings to fake delivery scam texts to fraudulent tempting tax rebate offers, often using well-known company names to appear credible. The simple idea is to make their call or text as convincing as possible so that the unlucky victim proceeds with clicking a link in a message, filling in personal details into a form, or providing password and security question information over the phone.
According to Ofcom, almost 45 million people in the UK were targeted by scam calls or texts in a three-month period in 2021. More than eight in ten (82%) reported receiving a suspicious message, and 71% received a suspicious text. Unfortunately, 2% of respondents followed the scammers’ instructions, equivalent to almost a million people, and were put at risk of financial loss and emotional distress.
How Scammers Operate
Scammers will use classic psychological tactics to get what they want. They may create a sense of urgency, impersonate authoritative figures, and exploit current events to manipulate their victims. For example, they may send a text posing as a bank, alerting you to a supposed suspicious transaction and urging immediate action. The most common types of scams experienced are impersonation fraud (51%), followed by counterfeit goods scams (42%), and investment or ‘get rich quick’ scams (40%).
Impersonating your bank – this can be either a call or text where you are alerted to do certain actions by a scammer pretending to be from your bank. Commonly this can be to tell you about a payment or an unauthorised login to your account, something urgent that will get your attention. However, it can lead to the scammer asking for login details and personal information or even asking for money to be transferred. According to UK Finance’s Annual Fraud Report for 2023, over £1.2 billion was stolen through fraud in 2022 in the UK, accounting for almost three million fraud cases.
Number spoofing scams – this is where a scammer changes their caller ID (the number that shows on your screen when receiving a call) in an attempt to disguise themselves. This ‘spoofing’ may attempt to mimic the number from a real company like your bank or a lender in an attempt to get your security information or personal details.
Missed call scams – have you ever looked at your phone and seen missed calls from unknown numbers? This type of scam deliberately calls you quickly, sometimes just for a second, so that you will get a missed call notification, enticing you to call back. However, doing so will mean you could be charged for this call at a premium rate.
Delivery text scams – In 2022, the most common type of spam text was related to the delivery of packages, with over 12.7 billion texts reported. These will usually be a text seemingly from a courier or delivery company such as Royal Mail or Parcelforce, where you will be alerted to a package being delivered. It may ask for a small payment and provide a link to click to investigate further. This will lead you to a website that can look very much like the official one of a delivery company, asking for information to be entered. A follow-up call may then happen where the scammers will use this information to ‘prove’ they are from the delivery company, attempting to get victims to transfer money.
Cost of living scams – Similar to during the pandemic when scammers were taking advantage of current events, the cost of living crisis has seen scammers pretending to be from energy companies. This involved a text being sent that asks for to you sign up for the government’s energy grant. Despite this ending in March 2023, this may not stop scammers from trying again this Winter to get hold of your details.
So, with many different fake text message scams out there and different types of scam calls, how can you tell which are the fraudsters and which are the real thing?
Identifying Fake Text Scams and Calls
You’ll need vigilance when it comes to identifying fake texts and call scams, but the good news is, it’s not impossible to spot them – in fact, once you get used to recognising the signs, it can be really easy to do so. So, let’s explore the telltale signs you should look out for.
- Red Flags – Key indicators you should look out for are generic greetings, unsolicited requests for personal information, and links to unfamiliar websites. Look out for messages that create a sense of urgency or alarm, such as warnings about account security or prize claims.
- Common Phrases and Tactics – Scammers often use phrases that prompt quick action, such as claiming a bank account has been compromised. They may also impersonate authority figures or use robocalls with pre-recorded messages.
- Scam Call Numbers – These calls can come from numbers that seem legitimate, even mimicking local area codes. It’s important to be cautious and verify the authenticity of any unexpected call asking for personal information or financial details. Typically, numbers beginning with 070 or 076 will be used, or even 08 or 09 numbers.
- Poor spelling or grammar – whilst not exclusively a scammer issue, poor spelling or grammar in scam texts can be a flag of something not quite right.
How to Protect Yourself
If you can stay one step ahead of the scammers, you can ensure you won’t fall victim to their common tactics. If you think you’ve spotted one from the signs mentioned above, here’s how to stay protected:
Best Practices to Avoid Scams
- Never respond to unsolicited messages from unknown numbers.
- Always verify the authenticity of any suspicious message by contacting the company directly through official channels. If the call or message claims to be from a finance company, find their official number and call them instead.
- Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unrecognised texts or emails.
- Keep up to date with the latest scam trends. Not only will you know any new scams to look out for, but you can then share this knowledge with friends and family and anyone who may be more vulnerable.
- Consider using call-blocking apps and spam filters to reduce the number of scam calls and texts you receive. These can help identify and block known scam numbers.
- Keep your device’s software and security systems up to date. Regular updates often include security patches that protect against the latest scamming techniques and malware.
Implementing these measures can significantly reduce your risk of falling victim to these increasingly sophisticated scams, safeguarding your personal and financial information.
How To Report Scam Phone Calls & Texts
The best way to deal with a scammer, and help protect others from falling victim, is to report them. Thankfully, it’s really easy to do and doesn’t take up much time. Here’s how to report scam phone calls or texts:
Message 7726 (SPAM) – This is a free-to-use service where you can report unwanted SMS messages or calls. Simply forward the text you’ve received to the number 7726. You’ll then receive a reply where you will need to copy and paste the number this fake text came from. If it’s a call, type ‘Call’ followed by the scam number into a new message and send it to 7726. You’ll then get a reply confirming it’s been received.
Report to Action Fraud – You can visit the Action Fraud website or call them on 0300 123 2040 to report if you’ve been the victim of a scam. You’ll also find further information to help you with the latest scams and preventative measures.
Stay Vigilant & Protected
As with many aspects of our finances, your financial education and awareness can be the best defence against fake text and call scams – the more you can learn and be aware of, the better protected you can be. Would-be scammers will try their hardest to find new ways to get you to give up valuable information or your hard-earned money, so staying vigilant will go a long way.
Stay alert, stay safe, and keep your personal and financial information secure, and remember to report any scam calls and messages you receive to help others too.
Here at QuidMarket, we will never call you or text to offer any loans or ask for personal information. If you receive any calls or texts claiming to be from us, please let us know and report this.