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32 Million suspicious emails reported by the public

Don't be caught out by fraudsters. Over 32 million suspicious emails have been reported to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS), with more than a third of all emails reported in the last year, new figures reveal.

The reports have led to more than 329,000 websites addresses being removed by the National Cyber Security Centre. Action Fraud, the national fraud and cybercrime reporting service, launched a national phishing awareness campaign on 24 June 2024, as reporting reached its highest level since SERS launched. New data shows a rise of 44% year-on-year, with almost 11,611,400 reports made to SERS in 2023, up from 8,074,200 reports in 2022.

 

Alongside emails, there has also been a huge number of text messages reported to 7726. In March 2024, more than 60,000 malicious websites were removed as a result of being reported using 7726. This is a free service, offered by mobile network providers, allowing customers to report suspicious text messages in order to prevent other people from receiving them too.

 

Claire Webb, Deputy Head of Action Fraud, said:

“When fraudsters go phishing for valuable information, anyone could be a target. They will hook an unknowing victim with a genuine-looking email, in a bid to get them to share personal information, or bank details.

“Year on year, the amount of people reporting phishing emails and texts is growing. Action Fraud is urging everyone to be extra vigilant of suspicious-looking emails landing in their inbox, which could contain malicious links leading to unknown websites. 

“Remember, if you think you have received a phishing email or text message, make sure you report it. You can forward emails to report@phishing.gov.uk, or forward spam text messages to 7726.”

 

SERS was launched by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the City of London Police in April 2020, to enable the public to forward suspicious emails and report any malicious website links. Since its launch, more than 32 million reports have been made to the service.

 

What is phishing?

'Phishing', ‘quishing’ or ‘smishing’ is when criminals use scam emails, text messages, QR codes, or phone calls to trick victims. Whether it’s an email asking you to “verify” your bank account details, or a text message claiming you’ve missed a delivery and are required to pay a redelivery fee, the goal is usually the same - to trick you into revealing personal and financial information.

 

In 2023, a doctor from London lost more than £150 to a fake email claiming to be from TV Licensing. The email claimed that they needed to renew her TV licence as soon as possible. What made the phishing email so believable was that the victim’s TV licence had recently expired and the link in the email led to a fake TV Licensing website that replicated the real one.

 

Here’s some practical advice you can follow when it comes to dealing with suspicious messages and calls:

  • If you have any doubts about a message, contact the organisation directly using the contact details on their official website.
    • Do not use the number or web address in the message. Your bank, or any other official source, will not ask you to provide sensitive information by email.
  • Received an email that doesn’t feel right? STOP! Report suspicious emails by forwarding them to: report@phishing.gov.uk. Send emails to this address that feel suspicious, even if you're not certain they're a scam – they will be checked.
  • Always report suspicious text messages or scam call numbers, free of charge, to 7726. Your provider can find out where the text came from and block or ban the sender.
    • To report a scam text, forward it to 7726 and then send the sender’s number when prompted.
    • To report a scam call, simply text 7726 with the word ‘Call’ followed by the scam caller’s number.
  • If you’ve lost money or provided financial information as a result of a phishing scam, notify your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. In Scotland, call Police Scotland on 101.

 

DVLA is also reminding customers that the only official place to find their services and information is on GOV.UK. Cyber scams are common so double check to spot fraudulent activity.

Scam emails and text messages

DVLA don’t send emails or text messages that ask you to confirm your personal details or payment information, such as for a vehicle tax refund. If you get anything like this, don’t open any links and delete the email or text immediately.

Misleading websites

Beware of misleading third party websites passing themselves off as DVLA. These sites might, for example, offer to help you apply for a driving licence, tax your car or connect you to their contact centre. These sites will often charge additional fees for services that you can get for free or at a lower cost on GOV.UK. For example, one website charges £49 just to change your address on your driving licence after moving home, when this service is free.

To try and pass themselves off as genuine, these sites might include ‘DVLA’ in their web address (URL). They might also design their site to appear as if it’s DVLA - for example, using DVLA’s old ‘green triangle’ logo, which they no longer use.

Don’t be fooled by these sites - even if they appear at the top of search engine results. Always double check you’re using GOV.UK.

Top tips to protect yourself and others

Only use GOV.UK so you can be sure that you’re dealing directly with DVLA.

Never share images on social media that contain personal information, such as your driving licence and vehicle documents.

Report phishing emails to the National Cyber Security Centre.

Report online scams to Action Fraud.

And Report misleading adverts to search engines.

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