A NEW twist on a delivery scam sees the perpetrators creating fake chatbots that sneakily sign victims up for expensive monthly subscriptions. The UK has been bombarded with bogus texts and emails impersonating Royal Mail and other large delivery companies over the past 12 months. A local friend says “I have had these texts and the cyber criminals know so many people will fall for this scam with the huge increase of online shopping since the pandemic. It's awful.”
The scammers have stepped up a gear, by sending phishing emails inviting you to ‘start a chat’ to trace a delivery. The fake Royal Mail chatbot is plausible – it lists a delivery tracking number and shares an image of a parcel explaining that the ‘label was damaged’ to convince you to reschedule the delivery. Clicking the link takes you to a different website, asking for your name, address, and payment details. The small print at the very top of this page, which is only visible when you scroll up on a mobile phone, reveals that adding these details enters you into a ‘Skill Game’ and purchases a three-day trial to bilingua.net costing £2 then £59 every 30 days!
Royal Mail explains how to distinguish a genuine message from a fake: “Royal Mail will only send email and SMS notifications to customers in cases where the sender has requested this when using our trackable products that offer this service. Where customers need to pay a surcharge for an underpaid item, Royal Mail leaves a grey ‘Fee To Pay’ card. It doesn’t ask for payment by email or text. The only time Royal Mail asks customers to make a payment by email or by SMS is in instances where a customs fee is due. In such cases, it also leaves a grey card telling customers that there’s a ‘Fee to Pay’ before releasing the item. This would apply either to an international customs fee or to a surcharge for an underpaid item. If you do have a fee to pay, you don’t need to click any links in texts or emails. The website is www.royalmail.com/receiving-mail/pay-a-fee, so type this into the address bar to make sure you don’t inadvertently click on a link for a fake site.”
On the Royal Mail website, there is advice and information on what to do if you receive a suspicious email, text message, or telephone call that claims to be from Royal Mail, or if you discover a Royal Mail branded website which looks fraudulent.
Our usual advice is never to send sensitive, personal information, security details or credit card numbers by email or text.’ You can report scam texts by forwarding the message to 7726 (this spells SPAM on a phone keypad). You can report dodgy websites to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) using its suspicious website tool, or forward phishing emails
Action Fraud is reminding the public to take extra care when booking tickets online as it is anticipated that increased demand for tickets following restrictions easing will lead to more unsuspecting victims being targeted. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Only buy tickets from the venue’s box office, official promoter or agent, or a well-known and reputable ticket site. Avoid paying for tickets by bank transfer, especially if buying from someone unknown. Credit card or payment services such as PayPal give you a better chance of recovering your money if you become a victim of fraud. If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk
If you or someone you know is struggling to pay bills or outstanding debts, Citizens Advice may be able to help. Citizens Advice Sefton telephone service is available: Help To Claim advice line number for help claiming Universal credit is 0800 144 8444. 8am to 6pm. Mon to Fri. For general advice: 0808 278 7841 (freephone) Mon – Fri 9.30am – 4.30pm and text relay for people with hearing impairment: Text relay: 03444 111 445 for people with hearing impairment. The debt number is 0151 318 6407. 9.30 to 4.30 Mon to Fri. Our local website address is- www.https://seftoncab.org.uk/Citizens Advice Lancashire West telephone is available between 9.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday, & 9.00am and 1.00pm Saturdays on Adviceline 0344 245 1294 and Help to Claim line 0800 144 8 444. Their website address is – www.citizensadvicelancashirewest.org.uk