Written by Kira Taylor |
Fraudsters are using fake TV Licence emails to scam people, with fears that students could be particularly at risk because of the threatening tone of genuine letters sent to halls of residence.
TV licensing scams have increased over the last few months with 200 reports made to Action Fraud in December alone.
In December, victims lost a total of £233,455 because of this scam.
The emails mimic the layout of a real TV Licensing email, asking people to correct their licence information or say their licence is about to expire to make them click through to a convincing-looking TV Licensing website.
The website then asks site visitors to enter payment details, including their account number, sort code and CVV.
Director of Action Fraud, Paula Smith, said: “This is particularly nasty as it looks so convincing. It is vital that you spot the signs of fraudulent emails to avoid falling victim.”
The website also asks for personal data, including name, address, date of birth and even the victim’s mother’s maiden name, suggesting fraudsters are trying to access other online accounts as well as steal financial information.
Victim lost over £6,000
A recent victim of the scam, who asked to remain anonymous, saw the email as legitimate when it told him to renew his licence. The email linked him to the malicious website and asked him to confirm his address and card details.
He then spotted attempted payments by fraudsters, one of which was £999 to Carphone Warehouse. These depleted his bank account.
Shortly after talking to his bank, he was contacted by someone claiming to be from the ‘fraud team’, even sending a confirmation message to his phone and giving a security code. The person told him the transactions would be stopped and the card would be cancelled.
The fraudster also knew about money in a saving accounts and asked if he could move it into a holding account until the account was secure.
He said: “I fell for it and transferred £6000 to his bank account. All in all, I would say it has had a real impact on my mental state, I feel stupid, annoyed and upset that these people exist and the fact it happens to a lot of people is horrible to think, and of course a lot of money may have just been taken from me.”
TV Licensing have said that they never email customers unprompted to ask for financial or personal information or about a refund.
However, the genuine letters threatening inspections to houses which already have TV licences may be creating fear that drives people towards the fraud emails.
Mia St Hill, an Exeter University student, said: “I think these emails have the potential to be very damaging as many students already get pestered by TV licensing through letters warning of the consequences of not having a TV license.”
TV Licensing would not disclose how many letters they send out, and said there was no link between genuine letters and the success of the scam. A spokesperson told the Falmouth Anchor: “Would that mean that TV licensing should stop sending out letters because people are giving out scam emails? It doesn’t seem to really correlate.”
How to avoid being scammed:
Don’t assume everything you receive is authentic. Never answer an unsolicited email from TV Licensing. Check the email contains your name not simply your email or nothing at all. The email address may look similar to TV licensing’s address, but check whether it is the actual one.
Scammers sometimes take real emails and amend them, so check for spelling and punctuation as well as changes in the words, particularly if it seems too familiar. Check the links go to the TV licensing website.
What to do if you’ve fallen victim:
If you fall victim to a scam, let you bank know as soon as possible and monitor your bank statements.
If you suspect your identity may have been stolen, check your credit file online.To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online reporting tool.