In the UK, there has been an increase in mobile phone frauds. Criminals are becoming increasingly inventive in their methods of taking advantage of mobile consumers, including smishing, wangiri fraud, fake support calls, Ai voice calls and more. A lot of these scams try to obtain your financial and personal information or force you to sign up for services against your will.
It’s important to educate yourself on the latest mobile phone scam techniques so you can avoid falling victim. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the most prevalent types of mobile phone scams hitting UK consumers right now and provide advice on how to protect yourself.
Here are the mobile scams hitting people in the UK we will cover:
Knowledge is power when it comes to identifying and stopping these increasingly sophisticated phone scams. Let’s dive in so you can keep yourself and your finances safe.
One of the most common mobile phone scams right now is “smishing”. These are just phishing scams done through text message instead of email.
These texts frequently pose as communication from reputable businesses or organisations, such as your bank, a delivery service, or a government organisation. The message will typically include alarming or urgent language intended to make you act fast, as well as a link for you to click on to provide personal information.
Some examples are:
You can identify smishing by looking for the following:
If you receive a suspicious text like this, avoid clicking any links and contact the company directly through their official website or phone number.
Another common phone scam to be aware of is called wangiri fraud, which is also known as the “one ring” scam.
Here’s how it works – you receive a call on your mobile that only rings once before disconnecting. You see a missed call from an international or unfamiliar number. Since it rang only once before hanging up, you’re curious about who it was so you call the number back.
Little do you know, this brief one ring call was intended to get you to call back a premium rate international number, often owned by criminals. Even if the call only lasts a few seconds before disconnecting, you are charged an exorbitant fee for dialing the number back – sometimes as high as over £20!
The number may also continue to call you repeatedly, hoping you’ll take the bait each time and rack up charges. Because the original call rings so briefly, you don’t have time to recognise that it’s a suspicious number before calling back.
To avoid falling for the one ring scam:
Staying cautious and avoiding calls back to unknown numbers is key to not getting hooked by these wangiri scammers.
Another common mobile phone scam technique is illegally signing people up for premium rate text message services without consent. You may all of a sudden notice extra charges on your mobile phone bill for text message subscription services that you never signed up for.
Here’s how it happens:
These unauthorised subscriptions can cost you up to £4.50 per text received! Most people don’t notice until they’ve already been charged for hundreds of messages.
To avoid falling victim to unauthorised mobile subscriptions and charges:
With vigilance each billing cycle and caution where you enter your phone number, you can avoid getting scammed into paying for services you never asked for.
Robocalls take advantage of autodialing technology to make recorded phone calls to consumers at scale. While not inherently scammy, robocalls are frequently used by scammers to cast a wide net for victims.
Common types robocall scams include:
You can identify Robocalls by doing the following:
Robocall scams are on the rise, but with caution and awareness, you can avoid becoming a victim.
A SIM swap scam is when a criminal fraudulently transfers your mobile number onto a SIM card they control. This gives them access to your calls, texts, and also allows them to bypass two-factor authentication on your other online accounts.
Here is how a SIM swap scam typically operates:
The scammer contacts your mobile carrier pretending to be you, and requests to swap your phone number to a new SIM card.
Because of social engineering or data breaches, they are able to provide enough personal details to complete the SIM swap.
Your phone suddenly loses service as the number is transferred to the new SIM.
The scammer can now receive passwords reset to your number and drain your financial accounts that use SMS for two-factor authentication.
Here are some ways to recognise these attempts:
Watch out for unauthorised attempts to contact your carrier, and if your carrier offers passcodes, enable additional security measures.
Get in touch with your carrier right away if your cell service abruptly stops working to ensure that no unwanted SIM transfers have taken place.
Use a security key that cannot be SIM-swapped or an authenticator app instead of SMS-based two-factor authentication.
To keep an eye on login attempts and get informed when a password is changed, set up account notifications.
Another mobile scam to watch out for is when fraudsters pretend to call from tech support regarding issues with your device or mobile carrier account. The goals are to trick you into paying for useless services or allowing the scammers remote access to your device and accounts.
These fake tech support calls often start the same way:
Red flags of a fake mobile tech support scam:
If you receive a suspicious call like this, hang up. If you have concerns about your mobile service, call your carrier’s official support number to inquire – don’t give control of your device away to cold callers.
Legitimate tech support will never cold call, use pressure tactics, request remote access, or demand unusual payments. Be vigilant against tech support scams.
As voice AI technology advances, scammers are now harnessing it to create increasingly sophisticated social engineering scams targeting consumers.
Here’s how voice AI scams work:
Some examples of how voice AI scams are executed:
Red flags that a call may be a voice AI scam:
As this technology develops, consumers must be vigilant about calls from executives or acquaintances requesting substantial favours or payments. Take time to verify before complying with anything suspicious.