With coronavirus restrictions still inplace despite the relaxing of rules over the Christmas period, many of us will be relying on postal services to get cards and gifts to loved ones.
With more people sending their festive parcels early to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas day, fraudsters are primed to take advantage.
Targeting consumers with an increased demand for online shopping people risk seeing their bank account drained by fraudsters ahead of the festive season.
This is what you need to know.
What is the scam?
The scam involves recipients receiving either a text message or an email that appears to be from Royal Mail.
The message states that there was an attempt to deliver a parcel made, and you are instructed to click a link in order to reschedule the delivery.
The link will then direct you to an authentic looking website, which asks for your full name, address, date of birth and mobile number.
Once you’ve completed this form, you’ll then be prompted to enter your card details, which the scammers can use to access your bank account.
‘Very convincing scam’
Detective Inspector Rob Burns, from Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit, said, “This scam is very convincing with Christmas a few weeks away and many people are shopping online and waiting for their orders to be delivered.
“It’s important to check the details in the messages and make sure it is genuinely related to an item you have ordered. Does the message use your name, rather than an email address? Does it mention the goods or company you have ordered items from? If in doubt do not click the link and contact the vendor directly via their website.
“Please help us to raise awareness by talking about this with your friends and family, especially if they are vulnerable or elderly.”
Ray Walsh, Digital Privacy Expert at ProPrivacy, advised, “Anybody in the UK that receives a text message purporting to be from a delivery service must remember that it could be a scam and that they should never follow any links contained in SMS messages or provide their information to the sender.
“If you are expecting a parcel and have not received it yet, contact the retailer or delivery service directly to rectify it and ignore any incoming messages that attempt to make you part with personal information.
“Scammers use cleverly worded messages that employ urgency to trick their victims, so if you get a text message that tells you to act quickly to secure your parcel it is vital not to panic or you could end up having your data stolen.”
How to spot a scam
There are a number of ways that you can spot a scam or fake message. Things to look out for include:
- Checking the ‘from’ address – is it from a company or organisation, or from a random email address? It should be worth noting that scammers often change their names to make the emails look like they’re from a legitimate company, but it’s always worth checking
- Is the greeting impersonal? Royal Mail says that fraudsters “often use subjects or greetings that are impersonal and general”
- Is there poor spelling, grammar or presentation? While scammers are getting better at making their messages look more professional, a more common thing to look out for it lack of consistency in the email, like different font styles or sizes, and mismatching logos
If you’re unsure about the message you’ve received in any way, you should always err on the side of caution.
Reach out to the company that is supposedly trying to communicate with you in a way that is completely separate from the message.
Don’t use any phone numbers, email address or linked websites. Instead, search for the company and use a different number or email address, from its website for example.
The Royal Mail has been the target of scammers and fraudsters before, and as such, has compiled helpful advice about staying safe.
Royal Mail says:
- Never send sensitive, personal information, security details or credit card numbers by email
- Never click on a link in an email if you are unsure about it, especially if it asks for personal financial information, this might attempt to install malware on to your computer
- Make sure you have a spam filter on your email account
If you have received any suspicious emails or text messages claiming to be from Royal Mail, you can let the company know by contacting them here.
You can also report the scam to Action Fraud here.
For scams in or from Scotland, you should contact Police Scotland on the 101 telephone service.