More than one in three people who text have been targeted by scam in the past six months but fewer than two in five have reported it. The most common scam by far was a criminal masquerading as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) stating that the recipient was due a sizeable tax refund. But despite so many receiving scam messages, some of which can lead to people losing a life-changing sum of money, only 39% reported it.
You can report scam and spam texts directly to your mobile phone provider. All operators now use 7726 as the short code to report spam texts, which is free of charge. Never respond to scam texts as this will just confirm that your number is live.
Simply delete the text.
Consumer Rights editor Adam French, said: ‘We found that a frightening number of people are still receiving scam messages, not only leaving them vulnerable to the loss of their hard-earned cash but also sensitive personal information. ‘Firms must urgently prioritise building the systems needed to stop these messages reaching peoples’ devices. ‘While we await for action on this, it’s important that people remain as vigilant as possible.
Stop and think about a message you receive before engaging in communication. The problem is still rife – any unexpected messages could well be a scam.’ Could you recognise a scam message?
How do scammers contact you?
We surveyed more than 2,000 people to uncover the types of scam messages they’d received in the past six months and how this affected them. We found text messages were the most common way people were sent scams, with 57% saying they’d been texted a scam at some point in their lives. More than a third had received one in the past six months.
Other messaging services are also used by scammers. More than a third of respondents who have the Facebook Messenger app had been sent a scam message on it at some point.
The tricks scammers use – ‘number spoofing’
Scammers are more convincing than ever and are able to ‘hijack’ message chains to make their message look like it’s come from a legitimate organisation. This is known as ‘number spoofing’ or ‘smishing’ (SMS phishing).
We also wanted to know how scammers were trying to hook people into responding to their messages, so we asked people what the criminals said in the scam messages they’d received. We found the most common scam was from people pretending to be from HMRC offering a tax refund, with 42% of respondents who’ve received a scam reporting they’d been sent that exact message. A HMRC spokesperson told Which?: ‘HMRC is a trusted brand that fraudsters regularly try to exploit.
‘We’re aware of these scams and have a dedicated team who work with internet service providers, other government departments and law enforcement to identify, frustrate and close down fraudulent operations. ‘We use a range of technical solutions to prevent malicious messages getting through to our customers, and offer comprehensive advice to the public to help them identify genuine communications.’
in recent weeks we’ve also seen a spate of scam messages pretending to be discounts from big-name retailers such as Costa Coffee, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. Other common scam messages received in the past six months included:
- You’ve won a competition (that you’d never entered) – 34%
- Owed money from an old injury claim – 32%
- Your PayPal account is locked, click here or You have funds, click here to view – 29%
- Free giveaway item – 24%
- Make money fast – 23%
- Missed delivery – 18%
- Your iTunes/Apple account is frozen, click link to activate – 18%
- Someone has hacked your bank account – 16%
- Someone has hacked your social media account – 12%
- Need to pay a subscription fee for a service – 12%
- Lottery scam message – 10%
- Luxury goods or clothing discounts – 7%
We even received some examples of the ‘your bank account has been hacked’ scam, with the scammer successfully spoofing the number to look like the messages had been sent by Santander and NatWest.
Ignore, and report a scam
Mostly people ignored the messaged they’d received.
But of those who received a scam message, one in 14 lost either their personal information, money or both.
But despite so many people receiving scam messages, less than half reported them. It’s vital to report every scam message you receive so the authorities can investigate it, prevent others falling victim to it and to make sure the perpetrators are caught.
How to report a scam message
If you think you’ve been targeted by a scam message you should:
- Never reply
- Never follow any links
- Never share any personal information, banking details or your Pin
If you reply, you could alert the fraudsters to the fact your number is active and if you follow any links your smartphone could be infected with malware. You should also contact the organisation the scammer is pretending to be from so they can investigate it and report it to Action Fraud.
Morrisons and Sainsbury’s are the latest big-name retailers being used by scammers looking to trick people via WhatsApp into parting with their personal details. Social messaging service WhatApp is becoming an increasingly popular channel for scammers to use. These two new supermarket cons follow a similar Costa Coffee WhatsApp scam we highlighted last month.
These message usually come from a close friend or relative, tricking the recipient into thinking they’re a safe endorsement and fine to share with their own contacts. We informed Morrisons and Sainbury’s about the fraudulent WhatsApp messages. Morrsions confirmed it is a scam, and Sainsbury’s thanked us for notifying them of the hoax.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: ‘Customers should always be mindful of phishing scams. This message is not from Sainsbury’s and we are advising customers to delete it.’
How WhatsApp scams work
WhatsApp scams are often very similar to other social media ones you might see on Facebook and Twitter. They often feature promotional deals and competitions that are too good to be true, such as free gift vouchers or birthday gift cards.
The URL shared in the message typically contains the name of a big-name retailer, leading people into believe the page it’s linking to is genuine.
But instead, clicking on the link will usually take you to an online survey asking for your personal information, including your email, home address and phone number, before the free ‘prize’ or free ‘gift voucher’ can be sent to you. When the survey is completed, you’re asked to select WhatsApp friends to share the deal with. The promotional message and link is then sent to all of those contacts.
If you’re not sure whether the link or offer in a WhatsApp message is legitimate, don’t click on it. Contact the company directly to ask if the deal is genuine and warn the person who sent it to you. Read our guide on how to spot a social media scam for more information on WhatsApp scams and how to identify them.
What to do if you’ve entered your personal details
If you’ve entered personal details, you need to be extra vigilant.
- If you receive any suspicious emails or odd postal messaging going forward, ignore them – they could be from a scammer hoping you’ll fall for their next scam.
- Keep an eye on your credit report and bank accounts – scammers can use personal information to steal your identity and open new accounts or take out credit.
The scammer could also add your details to a ‘suckers lists’ of people who are liable to fall for a future scams, commonly sold on the dark web.
Whatever form a message comes in, make sure you don’t give away any bank details or passwords.
Summer is here to stay, and if you’ve spent yet another night tossing and turning due to the heat you’ll probably need a cup of coffee to keep you going once that hazy afternoon stupor sets in. But do you really want to drink a steaming mug of the brown stuff in this weather? Instead, try making your own iced coffee drinks for a refreshing caffeine hit.
We’ve found three cool brews you can make at home that will rival the creations at your local coffee shop – and they’ll be cheaper too. Watch our quick video guide to making iced coffees below, or read on for full recipes and variations to try. You can use either instant coffee or espresso from your coffee machine for all three recipes.
How to make iced coffee – three ways
Need a new coffee machine? Check our independent coffee machine reviews to find the best. Here’s the full list of ingredients and things you’ll need to make the recipes shown in the video, plus tips and flavour variations to try:
Basic iced coffee
This easy treat takes only moments and is a great way to get your caffeine fix without breaking a sweat.
What you’ll need:
- Ice cubes
- A shot of espresso (or instant coffee – see hacks)
- Make an espresso, if you want to add sugar or sweetener do it while the espresso is still hot
- Chill the espresso in the fridge or freezer. If you can’t wait for it to cool then you can get away with using it hot.
- Fill a glass with ice.
- Pour in milk or a milk substitute such as almond or soya milk.
- Top with espresso, stir and enjoy!
Try these hacks:
- Use coffee ice cubes instead of plain ones. This prevents your drink from becoming too diluted when the ice melts.
To do this, make an Americano, fill up your ice cube tray and freeze it.
- Use instant coffee made up with a couple of tablespoons of cold water if you don’t have an espresso machine.
- If you have a Nespresso machine, you could try the brand’s limited edition Iced Coffee capsules. Nespresso says the Intenso and Leggero iced pods are specifically designed to taste good with ice. You can use the Nespresso Aeroccino frother to froth cold milk to add to the mix too.
The story goes that this popular foamy iced coffee drink was invented accidentally by a Nescafe representative in Greece in the 1950s when trying to make a quick coffee for himself on a busy afternoon. It has since become a classic outdoor refreshment for those trying to keep cool on baking Mediterranean afternoons. Traditionally it’s made with instant coffee, but you can substitute this for a shot of espresso.
What you’ll need:
- 1 tsp instant coffee and 3 tbsp water (or an espresso)
- 1 tsp sugar
- Milk and / or water
- Jar with tight fitting lid or shaker
- Shake the coffee and sugar mixture vigorously in the jar or shaker.
- Fill a tall glass with ice and pour the mixture in.
- Top up with water and milk to taste.
To make the truly frothy-topped Greek version, opt for instant coffee.
Frappes made with espresso will fall flat faster as the oils in the coffee disperse the bubbles more quickly. The more you shake it, the better your foamy top will be, so it depends how energetic you’re feeling.
Try these hacks:
- We’ve spotted some variations including using Coca Cola in the mix, or ice cream, to make a sweeter drink.
- You can also use evaporated milk instead of fresh, or a milk substitute such as almond milk.
3. Blended iced coffee
Recreate your favourite coffee-shop iced drink creations at home for an indulgent and satisfying pick-me-up.
You’ll need a blender that can crush ice for this one.
What you’ll need:
- 1-2 espressos / instant coffee
- Handful of ice cubes / coffee ice cubes
- Cup of milk
- Chocolate or toffee sauce (optional)
- Add the espresso, ice, milk, and – if you like – a drizzle of chocolate or caramel sauce, to a blender.
- Blend until smooth and enjoy.
- For pure indulgence, pour more sauce down the sides of a tall glass, add the blended coffee and top with whipped cream.
Try these hacks:
- You can add some hot chocolate powder to your coffee mix, or a flavoured syrup for a twist on the original.
- Add a dash of coffee liqueur for a late afternoon upgrade.
- If you like a Chai latte, try this blended with ice and milk for a summery alternative.
Choosing the best coffee machine for you
Whether you like if hot or cold, if you’ve developed a taste for a nice strong espresso, or the milky embrace of a smooth latte, a coffee machine can help you recreate these coffee-shop staples at home. There are three main types to choose from:
- Capsule coffee machine – e.g. Nespresso or Tassimo machines.
These use coffee pods to make quick and effortless espressos. Some come with milk frothers or milk pods for making milky drinks too.
- Ground coffee machine – these traditional machines require you to measure out and prepare the ground coffee before making your espresso. They come with either steam pipes for manual milk frothing, or automatic frothers.
- Bean-to-cup coffee machine – these machines grind whole beans on demand for a fresh and hands-off brewing experience.
Again, there are versions with manual or automatic milk frothing.
What type you choose depends on how hands off you want your coffee-making experience to be, the type of coffee you like and how much you want to spend.
- ^ independent coffee machine reviews (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Nespresso machine (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ Find out how to make an espresso, americano and more with our video guide (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ guide to useful coffee-making gadgets (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ ice-crushing blender reviews (www.which.co.uk)
- ^ coffee machine buying guide (www.which.co.uk)