Warning: There’s a new scam harassing UK mobile owners, here’s what you need to avoid it

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People across the UK should be on red alert, security experts have warned. This week has seen a surge in scams – with a new text message promising that you have a new voicemail and a delivery to reschedule from the Post Office both plaguing UK mobile users in the last few days. And now, sadly, there’s another scam to look out for.

The latest scam warning comes courtesy of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, NFIB. The organisation has warned phone owners to be alert to incoming calls from mobile numbers very similar to their own. Commonly, the first seven digits of the number will match your own mobile number.

Given that UK numbers only consist of 11 digits, that’s a pretty striking similarity.

These calls usually impersonate well-known government organisations, like HMRC or the DVLA, as well as law enforcement agencies. Callers will be pushed to “press 1” to speak with an advisor, or police office. To convince those a little unsure about the cold call, the NFIB says the pre-recorded message will usually tell recipients they need to talk to an advisor about an unpaid fine, police warrant, or something equally intimidating.

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In May 2021 alone, Action Fraud received reports of some 2,110 scam calls where the caller ID matched the first seven digits of the victim’s own number. Of these, 1,426 (68 percent) referred to HMRC, or National Insurance.

And it’s not only phone calls to keep a close eye on. A number of victims claimed they received a similar scam using messaging platforms, like WhatsApp. Like the phone calls, the text message would refer to money owed to HMRC, a police warrant, or issues with your National Insurance payments.

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Fortunately, Action Fraud – the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime – has come tips to keep you safe.

  • First off, always keep in mind that UK Government and law enforcement agencies will never notify you about unpaid fines or outstanding police warrants by calling or texting you. Do not respond to any calls or texts you receive about these.
  • Always take a moment to stop and think before parting with money or your personal information, it could prevent you from falling victim to fraud. Remember, it’s okay to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you. Legitimate organisations will let you call them back on their official phone number, which can be found on Google or in-store.
  • If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by forwarding the message to 7726. It’s free of charge. Meanwhile, suspicious telephone/mobile calls can be reported to Action Fraud via their website: actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing. This will help to save others from falling foul of the same scam

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