Text scams set to peak in UK on Saturday


British telecommunications company EE has warned its customers that they could be inundated with millions of fraudulent SMS messages on December 23, as fraudsters look to capitalize on their last-minute Christmas shopping.

The mobile operator claimed that on the equivalent day last year it blocked three million SMS scams (aka “smishing”), the highest daily number in 2022.

This year, this figure could reach five million, warns EE.

Among the most common smishing scams are missed delivery or delivery tracking messages, which use classic social engineering techniques to trick recipients into clicking. This could unintentionally launch a malware installation or direct the user to a phishing page designed to harvest financial and personal information.

Groupe-IB warned yesterday that it detected a 34% increase in the number of new phishing sites impersonating delivery companies in the first 10 days of December. The UK was among the top countries in terms of new phishing sites.

Learn more about SMS scams: Experts warn of epidemic of ‘SMS Pumping’ fraud

EE said it was using AI and initiatives such as blocking international SMS, blocking SMS from trusted routes and enhanced call protection to mitigate risks for customers. However, he warns that fraudsters are continually updating their tools and tactics to circumvent these defensive techniques.

“Super Saturday is expected to be the busiest day of the year for major retailers. With deliveries piling up on our doorsteps, scammers will be looking for ways to take advantage of the festive frenzy,” explained Jonny Bunt, director of regulatory affairs in the consumer division of BT Group.

“As one of the UK’s first lines of defense against fraudulent SMS messages, we have a clear view of the level of threat here at BT and EE and are already seeing a worrying rise in delivery scams in particular.”

The company claimed to have blocked more than 45 million fraudulent text messages so far this year.

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