The rise of digital technology and increased use of smartphones has led to a surge in scams over the years. However, according to Which?, there has been a sharp rise in this sort of activity during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The consumer group said fake delivery scams have been increasingly rife, with more than 60% of Brits receiving at least one scam text during this period. Moreover, scammers are managing to get these scam texts through to new phones within a few days of registration despite owners not yet having shared their mobile number details.
This is one of several scams to become more prevalent during the pandemic. Other scams that have become more common include romance scams targeting lonely people looking for love and company during the lockdown.
The increase in online shopping
According to officials, one reason behind the increase in delivery scams is the rise in online shopping over the past year. As a result of the pandemic and lockdowns, many more people are ordering items online, many for the first time. Delivery services have been inundated as they try to deliver to consumers around the country.
However, it has also brought increased activity among scammers who have tapped into this increased demand for online goods. By sending fraudulent delivery messages, scammers have been able to trick many unsuspecting people into handing over personal and financial details in the belief the message relates to something they have ordered online.
Delivery scam texts often claim a delivery was missed or there is a small fee to pay for the item to be delivered. The many people who have ordered goods online often believe that this relates to their order, and they hand over the necessary details without a second thought.
Many avoided being caught out
With scams such as these having become far more common these days, more and more people have become familiar with them. Consequently, around 70% of recipients of these texts said they realised it was a scam and had deleted the message. However, another 30% said that they had fallen for such a scam and had lost money as a result.
Adam French, a consumer rights expert at Which?, said, “Our research shows how fraudsters have bombarded Britain with scam delivery texts on an industrial scale as they try to exploit the unprecedented conditions of the pandemic. Couriers and the telecoms industry must take further steps to protect consumers, by making it harder for fraudsters to exploit systemic weaknesses to reach potential victims, and by making people more aware of how to spot such scams.”
Figures from Action Fraud showed that in the first week of December last year, 35 victims of this type of fraud contacted them to report financial losses to the combined value of £103,000.