The number of text message scams jumped significantly in the first six months of 2021, according to Which?

The consumer group said figures from Proofpoint show reports of “smishing” (SMS phishing) in the UK increased by nearly 700% in the first six months of 2021 compared to the second half of 2020.

Such scams often involve texts imitating banks, delivery companies and phone networks.

Proofpoint operates the 7726 text service that enables people to report spam texts for free, and collects data on those reports categorised as smishing.

The figures suggest there is a three-to-one ratio of parcel smishing attacks to banking smishing attacks. Voicemail smishing, meanwhile – where scammers send a text pretending to have a link to a voicemail – is also a more recent technique used.

Encouraged by Which?, major banks and delivery companies such as Barclays, TSB, DPD and Hermes have now agreed to adopt an SMS best practice guide for businesses in order to help protect customers from fraud.

Since establishing its own “scam sharer” tool in March this year, Which? has received more than 9,000 reports. Some 65% of these have been related to phone call or text scams, whilst 31% have been scam texts specifically.

Research by the consumer champion found that more than seven in 10 people say they do not trust text messages from companies to be free from scam risks.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy said: “Smishing attempts have risen dramatically – with…

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