Watch out - that SMS message could steal all your details

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The number of scam attempts using fake SMS text messages has skyrocketed over the first six months of 2021, new figures have shown.

Findings from consumer watchdog Which? found that so-called ‘smishing' attacks increased nearly 700% during the first half of the year.

The organisation teamed up with security firm Proofpoint to highlight the rise in smishing scams, with delivery companies and banks found to be the most commonly-spoofed firms.

Smishing warning

Smishing scams spoof or impersonate legitimate users such as banks, delivery companies and phone networks to lure victims into handing over personal information such as bank details or login information.

They have seen a huge rise during the pandemic, where many consumers, especially the elderly, have been forced to rely on delivery firms or switch to online services for the first time.

Proofpoint noted that two of the top three most commonly reported SMS scams to its free Scam Sharer tool have been fake text messages from delivery companies. Recent research from Which? found seven in 10 (71%) people say they don’t trust text messages from companies to be free from scam risks.

“Smishing attempts have risen dramatically - with fraudsters taking advantage of the pandemic to trick consumers into giving away personal details and transferring their hard-earned cash," noted Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy.

“Businesses must play their part to protect people from scams. We welcome the commitment by the businesses who have signed up to our guide and hope this will encourage more organisations to consider how they can better protect their customers from fraud.” 

Which? is now launching its own SMS guide to help businesses protect their customers, offering advice on how to differentiate their texts from those sent by scammers. The likes of Barclays, TSB, Hermes and DPD have already agreed to adopt the guide, which is also supported by a number of other key consumer organisations.

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.