This week, I wanted to give you a heads up about some scams that are doing the rounds at the moment. There are some truly unpleasant people out there trying to get their hands on your hard-earnt cash – but if you keep your wits about you, you can see them coming…
One of our readers emailed in about this one last week (thank you very much), and I wanted to share it. This is a text message scam that tells you there’s a problem with the census details you filled in back in March. It tells you to follow a link to “review” the information, or risk a £1000 fine.
If you tap on the link, it takes you to a very convincing copy of the official census page, and asks you to answer a couple of fairly innocuous-sounding questions. Then right at the end, you need to pay a small administration fee. Of course, if you give them your card details to take the £1.25 (or whatever they tell you it is) they can actually charge you whatever they like!
If you get a text message, email or phone call like this, it’s a scam. You can report it (I’ll tell you how at the end of this email) or just ignore it. The only ways the census team might contact you are in writing or with a personal visit – if in doubt, you can check their website here.
Royal Mail scams
There are a quite frightening number of these around, and people have lost a lot of money to them, so it’s definitely one to be on your guard with.
Most Royal Mail and other delivery firm scams are either text messages or emails. They tell you that an item is waiting to be delivered or collected, and all you need to do is pay a release charge of some small amount – £2.99 is fairly typical. Again, if you give them your payment details, they can actually take as much as they like from your account.
If you really do have excess postage or customs fees to pay, Royal Mail will contact you with a reference code. They’ll give you a Royal Mail web address to type into your web browser, then you type in the code they’ve given you to see how much you owe. They will never ask you to click on a link.
There’s been a rise lately in scam calls, messages and emails pretending to be from HMRC. They might be offering you a tax rebate or informing you of a penalty – either way, they’ll ask for your payment details and often other details like your National Insurance number.
Never click or tap any links if you get a message like this. HMRC have helpfully put together a list of genuine calls, emails and letters that they’ve sent recently to help you judge whether yours was real or a scam. You can read it here.
You can report any fraud attempt to Action Fraud – if you’re worried that you might have fallen victim to one of these scams, that’s definitely the place to go and report it. You should also contact your bank or credit card company straight away if you think your payment details might have been compromised.
If you’ve received a scam text message, you can report it to your phone network by forwarding the message to 7726 (it spells “SPAM” on your number keypad). To do that, open the conversation (being careful not to tap on any links) and tap and hold the message to select it. Then tap either the three dots in the top right or the word “More” and choose “Forward”. Type in 7726 as the number to forward it to – it doesn’t cost you anything.
All the best, and stay safe