One woman has issued a fresh warning over the Royal Mail scam that took 'every penny' she had.
Emmeline Hartley said she was 'scammed out of every penny I had' after receiving a text she believed was from Royal Mail, asking her to pay a £2.99 postage fee.
Royal Mail first warned customers about the text scam (opens in new tab) in November last year. It begins with a text saying something along the lines of: 'Your Royal Mail parcel is awaiting delivery. Please confirm the settlement of 1.99 on the following link'. It then links to a website that appears to be official, before requesting personal bank details.
In the Twitter post, which has now gone viral, the actor and producer said that she 'knew a couple of packages were on their way' as it was her birthday. 'I've had to pay additional postage frees before so thought nothing of it. I put my bank details in.'
The following day, Emmeline got a call from her bank saying that someone had tried to set up multiple direct debits from her account and had already attempted a £30 transaction at Argos. However, this was also a scam call.
The person on the phone took her through standard security questions, claimed to have cancelled her cards and issued new ones which would arrive in 3 to 5 days. They then said that because her sort code, account number, address and other details had been compromised, the scammers would have access to her other bank accounts. They gave her a "new" sort code and account number, before asking her to transfer all her money into the new account.
'I was so embarrassed by my stupidity of falling for the Royal Mail scam, shocked and scared that someone had been trying to use my card,' Emmeline wrote.
'It all sounds so stupid now, but like a fool, I trusted this man.'
'I'm usually very good at not falling for scams, but this one caught me off-guard at a pretty vulnerable time in my life.'
The post soon became a viral hit on Twitter, as other victims shared their stories of similar interactions.
In response to the scam, Royal Mail have said that they'll only ever send text messages when the sender has requested this and uses a product that offers this service. If there is a fee that needs to be paid, Royal Mail will post a grey card through the door.
But the reason these scams work, despite the warnings, is that they're complex. As Emmeline wrote in a response to another scam victim, 'Even if you hang up the phone and call your bank back, the scammer can keep the line open like they did here. It’s terrifying.'
Here are some tips for staying protected, including advice from Royal Mail, Barclays and Fraud.org:
1. Avoid clicking on any links in messages or emails, unless you're completely sure they're genuine.
2. When inputting financial information (such as card details) into any website, be sure that the letters at the beginning of the address bar at the top of the screen change from "http" to "https" or "shttp". This means that the information is encrypted and can't be intercepted.
3. Check your bank statements and credit reports often. This can help you identify any fraudulent activity.
4. Never share any personal details with anyone via text, email or over the phone unless they can verify who they are. If you're unsure, hang up and contact Citizens Advice (opens in new tab) for help.
5. To be sure that you're speaking to a genuine representative of a bank or other organisation, make a note of the incoming call number then end the call. Check it on the website and if it's genuine, wait for a while before calling them back and listen for the dial tone to be sure the line is clear.
Experts also urge people to check basic details like spelling and grammar mistakes, along with looking at the email address to check if it's genuinely related to the company.
Grace Walsh is a Features Writer for Goodto.com, covering breaking news health stories during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as lifestyle and entertainment topics. She has worked in media since graduating from the University of Warwick in 2019 with a degree in Classical Civilisation and a year spent abroad in Italy. It was here that Grace caught the bug for journalism, after becoming involved in the university’s student newspaper and radio station.
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