Text message fraud and smishing
What is it, how to avoid it and what to do if it happens
What is smishing?
This is when a fraudster sends a text message to say there's a problem with your bank account and ask you to call a phone number. If you do so, fraudsters will try to trick you into giving away your personal and security information.
Other messages may be from fraudsters pretending to be your bank, saying that personal information about you has been posted on the internet and ask you to visit a website. Using the link in the message may lead to an attempt to infect your computer or mobile device with a virus.
The text may ask for sensitive information, such as pins or passcodes, tell you that you’re owed a refund, or that there is a problem with your account. There will be a sense of urgency to the message, encouraging you to act fast, open a link or respond to the message.
Forward any suspicious texts referring to NatWest to the number 8835
This is not a premium rate number, standard network rates apply, please contact your network provider for more information on charges.
If you have replied to the text or provided any sensitive information report it
How to protect yourself from Smishing
Never give your full Online Banking PIN, full password or card reader codes to anyone via text
Do not phone the number included in the message, as fraudsters will try to trick you into giving away personal information
Do not click on any links or type them into your browser, as your device or computer could be infected with malicious software
If you have already clicked on a link, it is advised to run a scan with your antivirus software to check your device for any malicious software.
Keep your phone's operating system up to date
How to spot a Smishing scam
In order to put the above tips into action it’s important to know what smishing looks like, because it isn’t always strange texts from unknown numbers. In fact, some scammers even use technology to make their messages look as though they are from your bank.
But thankfully, by knowing what to expect, you can protect yourself. We’ve put this section together to show you the kind of messages fraudsters send so that if you get a smishing text message you can spot it straight away.
Knowing what to expect
Criminals might try to scare you into believing your bank account has been accessed. They might use capital letters or frightening language to encourage you to take action. Remember that scammers have no way into your account unless you give it to them, so don’t click any links or reply with personal information
“WARNING we’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account. For your security, your account will be suspended if you do not get in touch. Click this link to contact our fraud team.”
By telling you a specific amount has been withdrawn from your account, fraudsters want to make you panic. Don’t respond to them. Check your bank balance using online banking or our mobile app for peace of mind.
“A withdrawal of £1566.04 has been made from your account. If this wasn’t you please call the fraud team on 012 345 678 immediately.”
Telling you to “act fast” is one way fraudsters can get you to act without thinking. They might claim that your account has been accessed at a specific time to make the smishing text message seem genuine, or make you feel responsible by implying you’ve missed important calls or emails from your bank.
“Our security team need to speak with you urgently. Your bank account was accessed at 14:35PM. If this wasn’t you, please call our fraud team immediately on 012 345 678.”
A scam text message can feel genuine because it says a specific device was used to log in to your online banking. They may tell you an unauthorised or unknown device was used. We will never ask you to secure your account or click any links via text message.
“An unknown device has just been used to log into your bank account. Your account may be at risk. Please visit www.afakelink.com to secure your account immediately.”
Another way fraudsters try to trick you is by using language you’d expect to hear from a bank or a company you trust. They might use friendly words or even include some of the slogans and phrases you’ve come across before.
“Someone tried to access your account today, but thankfully we stopped them in time. To protect you we’ve put a temporary block on your account. All you need to do is use this secure link to log in: www.afakesite.com. Just follow the helpful steps to unlock your account and reset your password.
Report anything suspicious to us straight away. Together we can fight fraud.”
There have been cases where fraudsters send a smishing text and then quickly follow up with a phone call, to make the scam appear more real. When a fraudster uses a phone call to try and trick you into telling them your financial information, it’s known as vishing. Learn how to spot and avoid vishing scams here.