what to do about scam text messages

Well, two minutes after I completed the post about scams in general, a scam text arrived on my mobile! I decided to try out the Action Fraud site.

For info the text was from +447548018526 and read “Freee Msg; Our records indicate you may be entitled to £3750 for the accident you had. To apply free reply CLAIM to this message. To opt out text STOP.”

Hmm – clicked on “report a fraud” and the first question is ‘is the fraud happening now?”. “Yes”, I answered – the site immediately displayed “Call 999 and ask for the Police”.

I didn’t. I went back and said “No”, to see if I got a less dramatic option. I then got some ethnicity and diversity questions which I duly completed. Then a page asking about the victim’s location, gender etc. At this point I gave up – I want to report an attempted and not an actual fraud.

After a brief look (remember this is a facility to conveniently report something) I decided that the person who wrote the website did not have a simple reporting process in mind. I used the Action Fraud search box for “report scam text”, which seemed as good as any term. Amongst the many relies was a link to the PhonepayPlus organisation, who had a nice big box into which I could type the originating number. It drew a blank but lacked a useful “add a new scam number” facility, like you can get on saynoto0870.com, which is great for finding real phone numbers and avoiding 0870 ones.

What now? Well, I’ve got work to do but am disappointed that if money is being spent on regulation there is no simple way to report the numerous scam texts which come through. Perhaps there is scope for a site?

Do reply to this post with the numbers of any text scams you receive, at least they will be collected somewhere!

Getting rid of scam emails and calls

Recent campaigns to prevent scams

February was “Scams Awareness Month” when the government’s National Fraud Authority re-launched its “Action Fraud” 24-hour online reporting service, aimed at reducing letter post and telephone scams said to be cheating Britons out of millions of pounds per year. In March, Action Fraud set up an additional reporting service to tackle scam e-mail messages, establishing a dedicated e-mail address – email@actionfraud.org.uk – where scam messages can simply be forwarded. The plan is for all e-mails sent to Action Fraud to be shared with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, run by the City of London Police, for collation and analysis. “This will enable crucial intelligence to be gathered and preventative action to be taken, seeking to disrupt the fraudsters and close down the links between them”, according to Dr Bernard Herdan, CEO of the National Fraud Authority, who runs Action Fraud. He added: “This is the first time we have been able to collect and analyse scam mail and e-mails in this way. Collecting intelligence is the key to us being able to disrupt the activities of fraudsters and target their networks for closure”. One bank – HSBC – has been running its own scam reporting service since last year, asking targeted e-mail recipients to forward any suspect messages involving the bank to phishing@hsbc.com.

The response from Action Fraud

If you take up the government’s invitation to forward scam e-mail messages to Action Fraud via email@actionfraud.org.uk, they may be ‘bounced back’ – apparently rejected by a standard spam filtering service (at first glance the worst possible thing to have in place for a service specifically designed to accept mail with dubious content).

But according to Action Fraud “Please note, We have still received the scam emails you forward to us even if you get a bounce back message. The bounce back message just means the email has gone into a holding area for spam, which is then released and received by us as usual”, so all seems OK.

As an alternative, Action Fraud suggest sending printed copies of scam e-mails to their offices in Manchester, although the very information they need – about the true senders of the messages and the ‘click here’ links that reveal the addresses of fraudulent Web sites – are unlikely to survive when translated to paper.

Ideally, you need to forward the entire email in as complete a form as possible – your email viewer (outlook, thunderbird or other) may strip out the details of links)

So, fingers crossed.

Note – this update has been extracted form the monthly newsletter of Zen, a highly recommended broadband provider.