Delivery text message scams are on the rise, says UK Finance


Shoppers warned of surge in delivery scam texts this Christmas as banks reveal they’ve more than tripled since last year

  • Number of parcel delivery scam texts has soared in the past year 
  • Rise is due to the number of people receiving home deliveries 
  • Often the messages claim the courier can’t make a delivery and asks for a fee

Shoppers are being warned to be wary of a deluge of delivery scam text messages ahead of Christmas, as new data highlights they are surging.

With a large chunk of people undertaking Christmas and Boxing Day sales shopping online, there will be huge numbers of parcels being delivered across the country, something criminals are targeting, according to UK Finance.

More than half of all reported ‘smishing’ text messages in the final three months of the year claim to be from parcel and package delivery firms, figures provided to UK Finance by cybersecurity company Proofpoint reveal.

This proportion has more than tripled compared to the same time in 2020.

Consumers are being warned to be wary of delivery scam text messages ahead of Christmas

Consumers are being warned to be wary of delivery scam text messages ahead of Christmas

Often these fake text messages claim the courier has been unable to make a delivery and ask the recipient to pay a fee or provide additional details in order to rearrange.

There is then a link to a convincing but fraudulent website asking for personal and financial information.

Other scam texts are reported to be from people pretending to be banks, consumer brands and communication providers.  

Proofpoint operates the 7726 text message system on behalf of mobile phone operators, which allows customers to report suspicious texts.

Each year within the UK it receives millions of text messages reported as spam.

Reports to the 7726 system are being used by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to take down fraudulent website URLs and prevent further fraud losses.

Consumers are also urged be on the lookout for purchase scams.

Social media platforms, online and auction websites are increasingly used by criminals to carry out these scams, where a customer pays in advance for goods or services that are never received.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: ‘Scrooge-like criminals are using the festive season to try and trick people out of their cash.

‘Whether you’re shopping online or waiting for deliveries over the festive period, it’s important to be on the lookout for scams.

‘Don’t let fraudsters steal your Christmas – always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and stop and think before parting with your information or money.’

This is an example of the sort of scam text message a consumer might receive this Christmas

This is an example of the sort of scam text message a consumer might receive this Christmas

UK Reported Smishing  Q4 2020 Q4 2021 (so far)
Parcel / Package Notification 16.37% 55.94%
Financial / Banks 44.57% 11.73%
Merchant & Consumer Brands 3.42% 4.35%
Media & Comms Providers 14.27% 6.55%
Miscellaneous and Other 21.36% 21.42%
Source: Proofpoint for UK Finance   

Jacinta Tobin, vice president of cloudmark operations for Proofpoint, added: ‘Consumers need to be very sceptical of mobile messages that come from unknown sources. It’s important to never click on links in text messages, no matter how realistic they look.

‘If you want to contact the purported vendor sending you a link, do so directly through their website and always manually enter the web address/URL. For offer codes, type them directly into the site as well.

‘It’s also vital that you don’t respond to strange texts or texts from unknown sources. Doing so will often confirm you’re a real person to future scammers.’

This is Money previously reported that roughly four in five of all fraud cases that start with a text message are from scammers imitating delivery firms Royal Mail, DPD and Hermes.

The research from TSB found that Royal Mail was the most impersonated delivery company, accounting for 62 per cent of parcel fraud that starts with a scam text message.

This is followed by DPD and Hermes who collectively account for 34 per cent of text message delivery scams. 

As a result, consumers are urged to take note of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign which urges the public to remember that criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police.

They spend hours researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. 

Below are steps it advises before sending over any details or funds:  

• STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

• CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

• PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud. 



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here