Fraudsters are sending out fake TV Licensing emails to steal personal and financial information in order to trick people into parting with their cash.
Action Fraud, the UK’s anti-fraud agency, has issued the warning after receiving thousands of reports on fake TV Licensing emails.
In December 2018 alone, Action Fraud received 200 crime reports in relation to TV Licensing emails, with victims reporting a total loss of £233,455.
It says the new wave TV Licence phishing emails are part of larger fraud, in which criminals are calling victims and claiming to be bank employees.
How the scam works
Fraudsters are sending out fake TV Licence emails regarding refunds and payment issues.
The emails use headlines such as ‘correct your licensing information’, ‘billing information updates’ and ‘renew now’ to trick people into clicking on the link within the email.
After a week or two, the fraudster then phones the victim claiming to be from the fraud department of the victim’s bank.
They manage to convince victims they are genuine banking staff by using the personal details that the victim provided through the fake website.
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The fraudsters then claim that the victim’s account has been compromised, possibly by a phishing scam they may have fallen victim to recently, and that they need to transfer their money to a new ‘safe account’.
Pauline Smith, director of Action Fraud, says: “Bank staff and police officers will never ask you to move money to a safe account.
"It is also important that you never click on links in emails you were not expecting.
“If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please report it us.”
A TV Licensing spokesperson says: “We’re continuing to work closely with Action Fraud to raise awareness of the scam emails circulating to the public, posing as genuine TV Licensing communications.
"TV Licensing will never email customers, unprompted, to ask for bank details, personal information or tell you that you may be entitled to a refund.
“Anyone who has provided their details as a result of a fraudulent email should report it to Action Fraud. If they have provided bank details, they should call their bank urgently."
How to protect yourself
Never answer unsolicited emails from TV Licensing. The organisation will never email you unprompted, to tell you that you’re entitled to a refund or ask for bank details or personal information.
Don’t assume a phone call or email is authentic. Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name or address), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Criminals can easily spoof the phone numbers and email addresses of companies you know and trust.
Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information, and never click on the links and attachments in emails or texts you receive out of the blue.
Your bank will never call and ask you for your PIN, full banking password, or ask you to transfer money out of your account.
What to do if you’ve fallen victim
Let your bank know as soon as possible and monitor your bank statements regularly for any unusual activity.
If you suspect your identity may have been stolen you can check your credit file quickly and easily online. You should do this every few months anyway using a reputable service provider and following up on any unexpected or suspicious results.
If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber-crime you can report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
TV Licensing also offers helpful information on scam emails on its website.