Third of people who send texts receive messages from scammers, survey finds

3 min


A third of people who text have received a scam message in the last six months, a survey has found.

Consumer services group Which? found that of the 34% who had received a scam message, 7% had lost personal data, money or both.

Facebook Messenger was the second most common platform for messaging scams, with 16% of users having received a fraudulent message in the last six months.

This was followed by 10% of WhatsApp users.

The most common scam was messages which claimed to be from HM Revenue and Customs.

The attempt to access an iPhone was made via a text message
10% of WhatsApp users have received a scam message

Fake messages purporting to be from HMRC were sent to 42% of those who received a fraudulent message in the last six months.

The second and third most common instances saw 34% received a message saying they had won a competition and 32% were contacted over a fake injury claim.

Messaging scams usually attempt to coax victims into clicking on a link or calling a number to disclose personal or financial information.

Fraudsters also use technology to make their number appear on a person’s phone as the name of an organisation, making their fraudulent text seem official.

Mobile Phone Text Message Generic
Which? advises people to be vigilant and scrutinise messages

Which? consumer rights editor Adam French said: “We found frightening numbers of people are receiving scam messages, leaving them vulnerable to the loss of their hard-earned cash and also sensitive personal information.

“Firms must take action to introduce the systems needed to stop these messages reaching people’s devices.”

The group advised people to be vigilant and scrutinise messages.

Which? said the latest figures suggested there was “still work to do on this issue”, despite HMRC saying in January it had cut the number of messages reaching phones by 90%.

An HMRC spokesman said: “HMRC is a trusted brand that fraudsters regularly try to exploit.

“We’re aware of these scams and have a dedicated team who work with internet service providers, other Government departments and law enforcement to identify, frustrate and close down fraudulent operations.

“We use a range of technical solutions to prevent malicious messages getting through to our customers, and offer comprehensive advice to the public to help them identify genuine communications.”

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