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Date: 7th Mar 2017

Do you know who’s really texting you?

Quick, concise and right there in the palm of your hand – sometimes an SMS is the perfect way to update our customers. Text message updates are faceless though, so it’s important to make sure that the SMS you’re reading really is from MBNA.

Take Five have teamed up with a few famous faces, enrolling them in Scam Academy. They tested out their own dodgy texts on members of their family, giving them a number to call to redeem a totally made up offer, or chase up a serious sounding notification from their bank.

The unsuspecting celebs learned how sneaky SMS scammers really are. They rely on the fact that many of us will automatically assume a text is genuine by looking at the sender, so they make sure an SMS looks like it’s really from a big brand you know. The scammers can even continue text conversations from numbers you recognise, making them even more convincing.

Their main aim is to find out those personal details that are most valuable, mainly passwords and account numbers, by encouraging you to call the number in the scam message. This is a much more convincing approach than a cold call, which many of us have become quite good at dodging. If you get a text claiming to be from MBNA, we’ll always mention the last four digits of your account number. It’ll look a bit like this:

Message about a transaction on your MBNA credit card account ending 1234. Please reply CALL - Mon-Sat 8am-7pm or Sun, 9am-7pm, and we’ll call you back within 1 hour. Standard network charges may apply.

To be on the safe side, you can check text messages out by calling us on the number on either our website or on the back of your card. You’ll know you’re speaking to us about your genuine account and not to a mysterious fraudster.

Alexis: Welcome to Scam Academy. You received a text message, it says it's from your bank, it looks normal so you do what it asks. End of story, or maybe not. It's very easy for fraudsters to send you a scam text, manipulating the number to look like one you already recognise. They hope you will then automatically trust it and automatically do what it asks - either update your details, or give them your security details, such as your username, your password, or your bank details. So, far from being the end of the story, they now have everything they need to start taking your money. 

What people don't know, and what we shall demonstrate here, is actually how easy it is for fraudsters to send you fraudulent text messages. They are recognised by your phone and are sorted in conversations you are already having with that person or organisation. 

Scott: Donna, we know your number, we know who you bank with. 

Donna: Really? 

Scott: So I'm going to send you a message and I'd like you to read it.

Alexis: Is it from your bank? 

Donna: They want me to call to unblock my account. 

Alexis: Would you like to give that 0800 number a call? 

(Scam Academy phone rings, Rufus answers.)

Rufus: Hello there. 

Alexis: Now Scott has actually set up that laptop so that you can send some spoof text messages to friends and family. So you're going to spoof your mum. 

Rufus: It's going to be a champagne company, because my mum really likes champagne.

Donna: 'You've been selected from a prize draw and have won a case of champagne.'

Alexis: And leave her with a number to call, because if she calls it then this phone will ring and you'll be on the end of it. 

Carol: If she rings that number, you're going to have to buy her a case of that champagne. (Reading from laptop screen) “Just thinking we should get mum a nice present for being fantastic at Christmas, what do you think? I've found something she'd like, ring this number to order it now.”

Donna: 'Recent transactions have been made to an overseas account. Please call to confirm this transfer.' Okay, so shall I see if he calls? 

Rufus: Yeah.

(Scam Academy phone rings, Rufus answers) 

Rufus: Hello? 

(Donna hangs up the phone)

Donna: Don't tell him it was me.

Carol: I was absolutely shocked by the text messaging. You know you get texts, you go on them, you think 'That's not real, that's not real, oh because it says you've won this, that and the other.' Immediately delete. But this one going one extra level to get into a conversation string that you already have. That is scary. 

Alexis: The lesson here is how to tell what's a genuine text and what's a fraudulent one, because both your bank and your fraudsters will send you text messages talking about recent activity you’ve made on your account. The difference is the bank will only ever ask you to confirm a transaction, whereas a fraudster will ask you to give away information. So always take a moment to stop and think about what you're being asked to do. And remember, if you're ever unsure, never hesitate to contact the organisation in question - your bank or credit card provider - on a number that you trust, such as the one listed on their website or on the back of your payment card.