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10 Dec 2018

Phone companies to end bank text scams

'Number spoofing' scammers will no longer be able to hijack bank text messages and scare people into calling them back

The UK's largest mobile providers have pledged to stamp out a flaw in their systems that allows scammers to hijack text chains from a person's bank.

EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have launched the SMS PhishGuard initiative to try to combat messaging fraud by reducing the number of attacks and raising awareness.

Their first move is to put an end to these messaging scams sent by fraudsters masquerading as banks.

From early next year, banks will be able to register and protect their sender ID on a database. The mobile networks will block any attempt to send a text from that number that doesn't come from the bank.

The register will be widened to other sectors after the banking industry.

Read more: how to spot a messaging scam.

It's only right that banks fix a flaw in their system

Managing director of Money at Which?, Jenni Allen, said: 'These types of sophisticated scams - which can cost victims thousands of pounds - can be incredibly hard to spot, so it's right that telecoms companies have recognised a flaw in the system and are taking action.

'We encourage all companies looking to protect customers from fraud to sign up to this new initiative.'

What is number spoofing?

Using technology, scammers are able to drop a message into someone's genuine chain of texts from a bank. The fraudulent message will often claim that the recipient's savings are at risk and they have to call a number provided immediately.

But the number really belongs to a scammer who tricks the person calling into providing their bank details and then steals the money in their accounts. This is known as'number spoofing' or 'smishing'.

One in three receives scam text

This year we found one in three people had been sent a scam text in the last six months, and 16% of those were from scammers saying someone had hacked their bank account.

But despite the large number of scam messages, less than 40% reported them.

It's important to report scam texts so they can be investigated and the number be blocked.

Read more: the most common scam texts.

How to report a scam message

You can report scam and spam texts directly to your mobile phone provider by forwarding it to 7726, which is free of charge.

Never respond to scam texts, because this will just confirm that your number is live. Simply delete the text after you've reported it.