COVID-19: Banks and mobile companies join to block texting scams

The banking and mobile phone industries are declaring advancement in the face of a rise in so-called spoofing scams focused on exploiting the COVID-19 crisis.

The industries have joined hands with the National Cyber Security Centre to restrict 400 sender IDs from sending scam messages imitating genuine firms, state departments, and banks. According to UK Finance, 50 brands have been secured from being mimicked by criminals to date. It issued the update which included advanced texts from criminals which even land in the same text chain as those previously sent by the actual organization.

The cross-industry initiative has witnessed the Mobile Ecosystem Forum create a ‘white list’ that permits companies to record and secure the sender IDs used when sending out genuine text messages. Until now, 172 genuine sender IDs have been registered.

Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance urged customers to have a strict check against criminals exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to commit fraud. Customers should always follow the guidance of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and avoid clicking on links in unknown text messages in case it’s a scam. He advised them to report suspicious texts by forwarding the message to 7726 as soon as possible.

Regarding the initiative, Dr. Ian Levy, Technical Director at the National Cyber Security Centre stated, “The UK government’s recent mass-text campaign on COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for such industry collaboration in order to protect consumers from these kinds of scams.”