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scam text messages

Warning over fake scam text messages during lockdown

Scammers are already attempting to cash in on a third UK COVID-19 lockdown by sending scam text messages about government grants and coronavirus tests.

The text about grants, purporting to come from HM Revenue and Customs, contain a number of grammar and spelling errors. Receivers of the text are then directed to a fake site designed to look like the real HMRC portal where they are asked to enter personal information including card details.

Those following the link to Chrome or Safari browsers are likely to be stopped as the site has been flagged as deceptive but officials are warning people to be on their guard.

A spokesperson for HMRC told Sky News: “Criminals are taking advantage of the package of measures announced by the government to support people and businesses affected by coronavirus.

“Scammers text, email or phone taxpayers offering spurious financial support or tax refunds, sometimes threatening them with arrest if they don’t immediately pay fictitious tax owed.

“HMRC has detected 275 COVID-19 related financial scams since March, most by text message. We have asked Internet Service Providers to take down 254 related scam pages.”

HMRC added that if you are called, emailed or texted by anyone claiming to be HMRC, it could be a scam. You are urged to visit the gov.uk site for a checklist on how to identify whether the communication is genuine.

The NHS vaccine scam text works in the same way.

As pictured here on the left, the recipient receives a text with a link to a non-NHS site.

However the site it links to (pictured right) looks very convincing and asks for a variety of personal information and a payment card, which would never happen on the real NHS site.

Anyone receiving a suspicious text message in the UK is asked to forward it to 7726, a number set up by The National Cyber Security Centre.

More than £4.6 million was lost by fraud victims during the first lockdown last March, according to Action Fraud.

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