Delete this text message now! Urgent warning issued to all UK smartphone owners

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Security experts are warning EE, Vodafone, Three and O2 users to be on guard against a tidal wave of scam messages being sent in the run-up to Christmas. Experts have warned that over a million scam messages will be sent to Android and iPhone users this week alone, with over half of these texts trying to trick victims into clicking on dangerous links by claiming the recipient has missed an important parcel delivery. This isn’t the first time this scam has been used this year, but it could be especially effective right now with so many people waiting for deliveries for Christmas shopping that’s been done online.

Cyber-security firm Proofpoint has seen ten times more smishing scams this year than last. Smishing is short for SMS phishing, and this is where scammers send text messages hoping victims click on a dangerous link which leads to them either installing dangerous malware, being tricked into handing over sensitive personal information, or both.

Jacinta Tobin, vice president of operations for Proofpoint, said the mixture of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic plus the busy Christmas period has led to these texts being more tempting.

Speaking to the BBC, Tobin said: “We don’t want to miss that parcel or present.

Phone security: How hackers can obtain private information

“We are seeing more and more urgent messages warning packages will be returned unless action is taken.”

Even after Christmas these type of scams are still expected to pose a considerable threat, with the Boxing Day sales on the horizon which will lead to a huge amount of deliveries being dispatched next week.

Advising people on how to stay safe, Adam Christie, the privacy manager at Royal Mail, said customers will never get a text or email asking for money or for more information.

Christie said: “We love putting things through your letterbox. Do not make any payments until you also receive a card through the door.

“The business is doing everything it can to deliver Christmas to people. But we would urge people to be suspicious and not to click on any links they are sent unless they are 100 percent certain it’s from us.”

While a Hermes spokesperson added: “We’re aware of a phishing attempt claiming to be Hermes where individuals are receiving a text message including a link to pay for parcel delivery. We would never ask for payment in this way.”

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