A phishing scam using TV licence renewal as bait has been circulating email inboxes around the UK, driving 5,057 complaints according to Action Fraud.
The email, which tricks people into opening it with headings about licence expiry and incorrect information, leads victims through to a page where they're required to enter their account number, sort code and card verification number everything needed for scammers to steal money from innocent victims.
In some cases, the page asks for more information that could be used for identity theft or future social engineering, including a name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address and mother's maiden name.
The emails themselves look worryingly convincing, and headlines like "correct your licensing information" and "your TV licence expires today" feel suitably formal, too. A spokesperson for TV Licencing was quite clear, however: "TV Licensing will never email customers, unprompted, to ask for bank details, personal information or tell you that you may be entitled to a refund."
TV Licencing's phishing section of its FAQ has been updated with details of the latest scam, and it's unequivocal in its instructions: "If you receive a similar email message, please delete it. If you have already clicked the link, do not enter or submit any information.
"If you have entered personal information as a result of this fraudulent email you should report the fraud to the Action Fraud Helpline or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you have submitted any bank or card details, please speak to your bank immediately."
This isn't the first time the TV licence has been used as the bait in a phishing campaign. Back in 2017, Action Fraud heard from more than 200 people who have received fake emails promising them a rebate on their licence fee, if they just entered their bank details. Suffice it to say that those that did found themselves losing money, rather than gaining it.
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After a false career start producing flash games, Alan Martin has been writing about phones, wearables and internet culture for over a decade with bylines all over the web and print.
Previously Deputy Editor of Alphr, he turned freelance in 2018 and his words can now be found all over the web, on the likes of Tom's Guide, The i, TechRadar, NME, Gizmodo, Coach, T3, The New Statesman and ShortList, as well as in the odd magazine and newspaper.
He's rarely seen not wearing at least one smartwatch, can talk your ear off about political biographies, and is a long-suffering fan of Derby County FC (which, on balance, he'd rather not talk about). He lives in London, right at the bottom of the Northern Line, long after you think it ends.