Scammers are sending out text messages that appear to be from your bank, with the goal being to trick you into giving away your personal banking information. This bank text message scam is known as Smishing.
Smishing is short for ‘SMS phishing’, and relates to any attempt to defraud you in any way via text messages.
As I write this, the most popular bank that the fraudsters masquerade as appears to be NatWest. Of course, you may receive one of these scam messages regardless of whether you’re a customer of NatWest or not, so it may appear to come from another bank or building society.
The scary thing about this is that the perpetrators are using software that alters their identity, so that the message sender will appear to be your bank. Worse still, the message has the ability to add itself into a real message thread that you may already have from your bank. That, of course, makes it look as if it’s completely genuine.
The message will tell you that there’s been fraudulent activity on your account and so you need to update your details.
In the case of the NatWest scam, the message contains a link. Clicking on the link takes you to an exact copy of the bank’s website, where you’ll be asked for personal information: e.g. your full name, address, contact details, PIN and debit card numbers. Alternatively, they may ask you to telephone a number to update your personal details.
Don’t get caught out by this scam!
- DO NOT click the link
- DO NOT ring them
- DO NOT give them any personal information!
If in doubt, look up your bank’s telephone number on the web and use that, use a telephone directory, or go into your local branch.
UPDATE – DECEMBER 2019
Several UK phone providers are pledging to stop these text messages, by blocking any attempt to send a text from a number that doesn’t come from your bank.