Banks are warning about a new wave of TV licence scam emails - here's how to spot them

Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 1:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th April 2020, 1:33 pm

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has warned of an increase in theft due to TV licensing scams.

In a pop-up message on its online banking app, the bank revealed that people across the country are reporting bank account theft after mistakenly responding to fraudulent emails.

The fake emails claim to be from the TV licensing authority. The scam is just one of many being reported on during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The bank has issued advice to customers on how to avoid falling victim to such scams.

What is the TV licensing scam?

RBS explained that criminals pretending to be from the TV licensing authority are sending emails, asking the recipients to click a link.

“They want you to click a link to get your phone number and the name of your bank,” the RBS warning said.

“You will then receive a call from the criminals, pretending to be from your bank’s fraud team and persuaded to move your money to a safe account or give away card reader codes.”

Are there any other scams I should be aware of?

The coronavirus pandemic has seen an increase in several online scams, as internet usage has increased while the nation remains under lockdown.

In the warning message sent to its customers, RBS said “many variations of this scam exist, from bogus COVID-19 fines to the promise of free supermarket shopping vouchers.”

On the bank’s website, you can find details of several recent scams.

One example is an email impersonating the World Health Organisation (WHO), which pretends to offer coronavirus related advice.

This email includes a link that, once clicked, infects your computer with malware, which monitors your behaviour and captures your personal data.

Other so-called phishing scams come from criminals impersonating government organisations, such as the HMRC offering a tax refund, as well as purchase scams offering products such as face masks, vaccines or testing kits.

What is the bank’s advice?

The RBS website urges customers to “stay alert to suspicious phone calls, texts or emails from anyone claiming to be from the bank or other trusted organisations.”

The bank advised the public not to click on any links in emails, unless you are certain the email is genuine.

It adds that you should never download attachments or software, or give anyone remote access to your computer following communication you’ve received out of the blue. It has also stated that your bank will never ask you to move money from your accounts for safe keeping.

Additionally, your bank will never ask you to share the following information:

- Your full security number- Your password- Your card reader code- Any one-time passcodes that are sent to you for logging into online banking or registering for the mobile app

What has the TV Licensing Authority advised?

Addressing the increase in such scams, the TV Licensing Authority has released the following advice on their website:

“We will always use [email protected] (or [email protected]) to email you.

“Scammers will try to disguise their email address because they normally can't use a genuine TV Licensing one. On a computer or laptop, you’ll normally see the email address between the <> symbols.”

However, if you are on a mobile device, you may need to select the sender’s name to show the full email address.

Equally, the TV Licensing Authority has said it will always include your name in their emails, unless you specified to them that you don’t need a licence and therefore didn’t provide a name.

What should I do if I have fallen for one of these scams?

If you believe you have fallen victim to such scams, RBS advises you to contact them (or your own bank) immediately, using the telephone number found on the back of your bank card.

However, it urges you to do so from a different phone than the one the scammers have contacted you on, where possible.

Additionally, you should report the scam to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or by visiting their website.

Those living in Scotland can report fraud directly to Police Scotland, by calling 101.