Millions of mobile phone users are being warned about potential SMS scams in the run up to Christmas, peaking today on what is being dubbed “Super Saturday”.
The BT-owned EE network has said cybercriminals could try to take advantage of the busy last-minute shopping period to issue delivery-like scams, suggesting parcels are waiting to be delivered or their delivery has been missed .
The techniques can trick recipients into clicking on links through which they can unwittingly install malware (malicious software) or be taken to a phishing page that aims to collect personal and financial data.
EE said it managed to block around three million SMS scams reaching customers’ phones on this day last year.
The company expects to 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 organize last-minute parcels in time for the holiday period.
“These include misguided delivery or track delivery text scams, which get 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 aware of scams, especially over the next few weeks when the stress of holiday preparations can “cloud judgment and result in people dropping their guard”.
Jonny Bunt, EE’s director of regulatory affairs for the BT Group consumer division, said: “Super Saturday is set to be the busiest day of the year for retailers.
“As the deliveries pile up on the doorstep, fraudsters will be looking for ways to take advantage of the festive frenzy.
“As one of the UK’s first lines of defense against SMS scam texts, we have a clear view of the threat level here at BT and EE and are already seeing a worrying rise in delivery fraud in particular.”
It has issued some tips on how to stay safe from scams:
• Never click on a link in a text from an unknown source
• Trust your instincts and if something looks suspicious, there is probably a catch
• Keep your device’s software up to date
• Never provide bank details, passwords or security codes on a linked website
• If your bank calls you, consider calling 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 message, forward the phone number and the incident free of charge to 7726 so that your mobile provider can investigate
• After reporting, block the number and notify others of the scam so they can avoid becoming a victim.