A Royal Mail scam could see you seriously out of pocket as fraudsters turn to using online chat boxes to get your details – here’s how to avoid being caught out.
The new delivery scam sees fraudsters creating fake chatbots that sign victims up for expensive monthly subscriptions. C onsumer campaigners Which? say scammers have been sending phishing emails inviting you to ‘start a chat’ to trace a delivery.
The fake Royal Mail chatbot lists a delivery tracking number and shares an image of a parcel explaining that the ‘label was damaged’ to convince you to reschedule the delivery. Clicking the link takes you to a different website, asking for your name, address, and payment details, Wales Online reports.
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The small print reveals that adding these details enters you into a ‘Skill Game’ and purchases a three-day trial to bilingua.net costing £2 then £59 every 30 days. Which? says the form has also switched to promoting a different website – called proplanner.io – costing £62 every 30 days.
Bilingua.net told Which? that the Royal Mail scam is an unscrupulous activity conducted by an ‘affiliate’ – a company that joined its marketing program and gets paid per sale generated for bilingua.net.
A spokesman told Which?: “We do not condone or approve the abusive behaviour by the affiliate in question. It is a gross violation of our affiliate terms and conditions and marketing code of conduct. We have marketing compliance procedures in place to ensure that such violations do not occur, but once in a while abusive affiliates do slip through.”
Bilngua.net has now refunded three UK customers.
A spokesman for Proplanner.io told Which?: “Upon detection we immediately notified the lead generator, from whom we buy our traffic. They confirmed that they would cease all relationships with this affiliate, and we haven’t detected irregularities since.
“We have furthermore blocked their IP address in our fraud detection system and taken other steps to make sure this affiliate or any successor doesn’t try to send us fake traffic in the future. As you can imagine, we are very unhappy with the situation, and reiterate that we have nothing to do with this party.”
Here Royal Mail explains how to distinguish a genuine message from a fake:
- Royal Mail will only send email and SMS notifications to customers in cases where the sender has requested this when using our trackable products that offer this service.
- In cases where customers need to pay a surcharge for an underpaid item, Royal Mail leaves a grey ‘Fee To Pay’ card. It doesn’t for payment by email or text.
- The only time Royal Mail asks customers to make a payment by email or by SMS is in instances where a customs fee is due. In such cases, it also leaves a grey card telling customers that there’s a ‘Fee to Pay’ before releasing the item. This would apply either to an international customs fee or to a surcharge for an underpaid item.
If you do have a fee to pay, you don’t need to click any links in texts or emails. The website is www.royalmail.com/receiving-mail/pay-a-fee, so type this into the address bar to make sure you don’t inadvertently click on a link for a fake site.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The security of our customers is a high priority for Royal Mail. On our website we offer advice and information on what customers should do if they receive a suspicious email, text message, or telephone call that claims to be from Royal Mail, or if they or discover a Royal Mail branded website which they think is fraudulent.
“This advice includes reminding customers to never click on a link in an email if they are unsure about it, especially if it asks for personal financial information like your bank details. We also advise customers never to send sensitive, personal information, security details or credit card numbers by email or text.”