Paypal – The Advertiser has been getting a lot of scam texts lately – here are some real whoppers
Some scammers appear to have set their sights on this reporter, and they have come up with some real whoppers in their morally bankrupt pursuit of cash.
As everyone knows, it is impossible to trick journalists – and this reporter was never, ever, ever almost tricked into trying to get hold of sky hooks and a ‘long wait’ in a previous line of work.
But no matter how savvy we are (or are not), we’re never invulnerable.
The age of bumbling emails about distantly related princes or mysterious lottery wins is in its twilight – and the age of the vaguely credible text messages has begun.
One of the saddest elements of these scams is that, when they are effective, it’s often with the elderly or the vulnerable – those who are usually hurt the most by losing money.
A scam phone call I received last year was very telling – I knew what they were up to so I decided to play along and waste their time.
For the record, the best thing to do with a call like this is to just hang up if you are in any doubt.
These people can get very nasty – but reporters are well acquainted with people who behave like angry little goblins, so there was no harm in stringing them along a bit.
After about 15 minutes of timewasting, I decided to confront the scammer directly, asking why they felt it was ok to do what they were doing.
The reply was exaggerated outrage, the hallmark of someone telling porkie pies.
I twisted the knife a bit further, and suggested that they are the worst kind of human because their scams rely on getting through to the elderly or vulnerable.
This was met with fury, and after I started talking over the top of the delightful fellow in a wonderfully annoying and obnoxious way, he hung up.
At no point did he show any sign of conscience or reflection – one of the parts of his rant that I understood was a threat to disconnect my internet services.
The lesson here is that these people are ruthless.
They know what they are doing is wrong and they don’t care, or they’ve managed to justify their criminal activities with some twisted logic known only to them.
If they can get hold of your money or your personal details – they will.
So here I’ll share a selection of the biggest whoppers I’ve had sent to me, in the hope it raises some awareness.
Some of you might think these texts are obviously nefarious – if you do, treat this story as a reminder to have a conversation with loved ones who might not know.
EE: We are unable to process your latest bill. In order to avoid restrictions please update your billing information via: [big scam url here which I won’t link to for obvious reasons]
First, I should hope EE can’t process a bill with me – I don’t owe them anything.
Here the scammer is going for a scattergun approach. They likely hold no information on me other than a phone number – so they’ve sent this in the hope I am actually with EE and, in a moment of panic, I follow the link. Their ultimate aim is for you to get on their website and give up sensitive information.
The website linked to is nothing to do with EE, and EE said they will never send customers messages asking them to login via a link.
GOVUK: You have a pending tax refund of £276.84 from HMRC. To proceed with your form please verify your information via: [Guess what would be here? Yes, you’re right, another scam url]
HM Revenue and Customs will never send you notifications of tax rebates via email or text. Never engage with these kinds of messages.
If you visit them, these spoof HMRC websites will ask you to fill in sensitive information to ‘confirm’ your details.
Some of these websites can look very convincing. In the case above, our scammer is a blockhead. Their url has a .com domain. Our government is in the UK – so it has a .uk domain.
My scammers appeared fond of the HMRC trick – I had two separate texts with very similar contents.
HALIFAX: A new payee (MR K KAHN) has been added to your account at 21:48 on 10/01/21. If this was NOT you, please visit [url with the words ‘restrict payee’ in it – no mention of Halifax]
You’re noticing a pattern now – all of these texts are sent with the intention of getting you to follow a link to a spoof website so scammers can get their grubby little hands on your personal details.
Halifax said a text from them will include part of your name, account number or post code. Scammers pretend to be all sorts of banks and building societies when they try it on, so if you are in any doubt – ignore the message and ring the bank directly using a number you have got from a proper source.
Paypal: We have limited your account due to safety concerns. Please visit [fake paypal url here] before we are forced to close your account.
Paypal gives advice on how to deal with these sorts of messages here www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/phishing. They state that many scam messages tell you that your account will be in jeopardy if something critical is not updated right away.
Paypal even gives its own example of a popular scam message: “Your PayPal account has been suspended due to suspicious activity. Please contact us immediately at 0123-4567. It is imperative that we speak to you immediately.”
As before, if in doubt, contact them directly.
Here’s the end of our odyssey through the world of dodgy text messages.
Remember, never feel forced to act quickly as the result of an email, phone call or text message. If the person on the other end of the line is trying to pressure you, or threatening dire consequences if you don’t take action immediately, they’re probably up to no good.
If you are in any doubt, speak to a friend or a relative, or get in touch with the organisation someone is claiming to be from directly, using contact details from a reputable source.