Warning after rise in scam messages posing as the recipient’s child
A warning has been issued following a rise of text messaging scams which see scammers pose as a person’s child in a bid to gain money.
With the summer break now upon us the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is urging parents, guardians and youngsters to be aware of the fake messages if heading on holiday or to festivals.
In the scams, a text message claiming to be from the recipient’s son or daughter claims that the sender has a new number, or has broken or lost their phone.
The messages – and numerous others like them – are the first stage in a phishing scam, designed to trick recipients into engaging with the “new number” in a bid to access personal data and money.
There are also examples of the scam working the other way around, with the sender posing as a parent telling their offspring that they have a new number – with the same intention of stealing money or personal details.
CTSI say SMS text messages – as opposed to, for example, an app like WhatsApp – lends the scam an extra level of credibility, since it is more likely that such apps would not yet be installed on a new or back-up phone.
CTSI recommends people who receive such messages to:
- phone the supposed sender on their original number to check whether the message is genuine
- if they are unreachable, verify the identity of the sender by asking them a question such as ‘what colour is dad’s car?’, or ‘what colour is the front door?’
- go online to look up whether the new number has been reported elsewhere as a scam
- never pass on personal details or make any payment via your phone unless you are 100% sure the person you are speaking with is who they say they are
- be wary of suspicious wording, unusual spellings or phrases that seem out of character – while superficially convincing, many scammers make obvious errors, particularly if English is not their first language
- always take time before replying to any message to stop, take a breath, and consider whether it is genuine
Katherine Hart, CTSI Lead Officer for Scams, said: “Having the freedom to go out and explore the world is a crucial part of being young, and parents are often understandably worried about whether their children are safe and can be contacted in case of an emergency.
“Scammers know this, and they exploit that concern by posing as family members, with the ultimate aim of harvesting personal information.
“The good news is that there are some basic things you can do, like verifying the sender via their original number, or asking questions that only they would know the answer to, to give yourself some peace of mind and avoid being scammed.
“Any parent – especially those with teenagers – knows the high-stakes drama that ensues from a lost or broken mobile phone.
“In such situations, it can be tempting to make spur-of-the-moment decisions only to regret it soon after.
“We advise anyone who receives a message like this out of the blue to take just a few moments to double-check that it is genuine.
“Doing so could save you from a lot of trouble later on.”
John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI, said: “Scammers will seize any opportunity to exploit people’s personal circumstances. In these examples, they are playing on the need for parents to stay in touch with their children.
“They are playing on vulnerabilities and a result of their cynical efforts to steal money and data they are making it more difficult for families to contact one another in the event of an actual emergency.
“As ever, we urge the public to be on their guard. If you receive one of these text messages, do not respond to it, but do report it so we can get a better picture of the scale of the problem and make it more difficult for scammers to operate.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com