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UK’s biggest banks warn customers of scam texts targeting thousands

Customers are being warned to look out for the text scam (Picture: CTIS/Getty)

Thousands of online banking customers are being targeted in a large-scale text message scam aiming to steal cash and personal details. The messages – claiming to be from Barclays, Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds – ask account holders to verify suspicious transactions. The texts are framed as security messages requesting confirmation of a payment made from an unrecognised digital device. In another version, the recipient is asked to tap a link to confirm payment to a named person. All of the messages contain links that request sensitive information such as online banking details and full names, putting the person at risk of theft and fraud. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), which raised the alert, said it has considerable evidence the scam is widespread.

The scam is affecting customers with Barclays, Halifax, HSBC and Lloyds (Picture: CTIS) Lead Officer Katherine Hart said: ‘I am witnessing so many reports of this scam; indeed, I have received multiple versions of it on my phone. The public is very vulnerable to this type of fraud, especially when more people rely on online payments. ‘Fraudsters change the form and methods of their scams to match shifting consumer behaviour. The surge in online shopping and payments means that the public must be more vigilant when making online payments and receiving messages claiming to be from their bank.’ Ms Hart said recipients of such texts should contact their bank directly, adding that suspicious messages can also be forwarded to 7726, which is a free reporting service ran by Ofcom. ‘We must protect ourselves and others from these scams but also provide vital intelligence to authorities,’ she said. It follows warnings of a Royal Mail scam which sees messages being sent claiming a parcel is awaiting delivery – but a charge must be paid first. Emmeline Hartley, 28, told Metro.co.uk how she was tricked into sending all of her money to fraudsters after entering her details on what she believed was the Royal Mail website.

The Birmingham-based student spent the ‘rest of the day sobbing’ on hold to her bank Barclays, who said she’d fallen victim to a highly common ‘safe account scam’. She still does not know if she will get all of her money back. Fraudsters are taking advantage of the surge in online payments amid the pandemic to hack into people’s accounts. Commenting on the latest scam, spokesperson for HSBC told The Sun: ‘We would encourage customers to keep abreast of the latest scams to help protect themselves from these unscrupulous criminals. ‘They can do this on a dedicated page on our website that they can easily bookmark and revisit.‘ Jim Winters, head of fraud at Barclays, added: ‘As fraudsters and their techniques become increasingly sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant to the threat of scams. ‘Do not click on any link or open an attachment on any e-mail or text you receive which you weren’t expecting.” ‘Also do not rely on the caller display on your phone or text messages claiming to be from your bank or another organisation – fraudsters can change their number so it looks like a real company is calling. ‘If you’re in doubt, hang up and call them on a number you have verified and can trust.’ – metro.co.uk