How to tell if a text you’ve received is a scam

The telltale signs of a smishing attempt

You’ve got a text. It’s supposedly from an organisation you’ve heard of – one you use quite often, in fact. But you weren’t expecting to hear from them. The text is asking you to visit a website to get an amazing offer.

That could be a smishing attempt. 

We’re seeing more of these scams-by-text 

Smishing simply means a phishing attempt by SMS (in other words, by text). Like phishing emails, criminals send these messages to lure you into clicking on links or downloading attachments. The only difference is they send them via text, rather than by email. By dropping you a text rather than an email, these criminals are making contact in a more personal way. 

The head-scratcher is that real companies and organisations might text you too. So how can you tell the difference – real text or scam SMS? 

A text about bond offers – no, that’s not from us 

We might send you a text if you’ve made a claim with us or we don’t have an email address from you. But we don’t send texts to tell you about any offers we have. So if you receive anything that looks like the real-life examples below, it’s a scam.

Fake Aviva text scam

The make-believe offers are similar to the fake bonds we’ve warned you about. And just like those, no matter what amazing offers these messages are telling you about, they’re not real. So don’t reply to the message or click on any links. 

A few other ways to tell a text has come from a scammer 

  • It claims that you haven’t paid enough tax so you need to send money immediately – these texts often look like they’re coming from HMRC 
  • It’s asking for payment for a missed parcel – criminals will claim to be from legitimate delivery companies and say you need to pay a certain amount for them to release your parcel. 
  • It says you can have the COVID-19 vaccination for a fee – the NHS will never ask for payment and banking Footnote [1] so you can be sure these texts are fake. 

If a text looks suspicious but appears to be coming from a legitimate company, you should contact the organisation directly using the organisation’s official website. They’ll be able to confirm whether they tried to contact you. 

Don’t reply. Don’t ignore. Do report 

Once you realise a text is a scam, you might be tempted to reply – perhaps with a strong-worded message. But it’s best not to do this as it lets the scammers know that your number is active. 

You might even want to ignore it. But it’s best to take a minute or two to report it. Doing so can help to stop them. 

You can report it: 

  • to your network provider – forward the scam text to 7726 (it’s the same number for all providers), free of charge 
  • to Action Fraud – you can sign up or report as a guest 

If you receive a suspicious text about a policy or investment you have with us, you can report it to us – we'll look into it for you.

It’s also worth blocking the number that’s tried to contact you. Although criminals can contact you again from other numbers, blocking a number still means they have one less way to reach you. 

See our website for the real deals 

If you’re interested in our products, visit our website where you’ll be able to see our offers. Although you may be able to get our products through third parties such as a broker or financial adviser, you should always do your own research to make sure everything is as it seems.

More ways to protect your money

Read more tips and guides on how to keep your money secure on our fraud hub.

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