The banking and mobile phone industries are claiming progress in the face of a surge in so-called spoofing scams aimed at exploiting the coronavirus crisis.
Lobby groups say collaboration, also involving the National Cyber Security Centre, has led to 400 sender IDs being blocked from sending scam text messages mimicking trusted organisations, including government departments and lenders.
Of those, 70 sender IDs were looking to capitalise on fears surrounding COVID-19, they said.
UK Finance, which represents banks, said 50 genuine brands had been protected from being impersonated by criminals to date.
It issued the update just weeks after alerting the public to a leap in spoofing – in which texts from criminals are so advanced they can even land in the same text chain as those previously sent by the genuine organisation.
The cross-industry initiative has seen the Mobile Ecosystem Forum develop a ‘white list” which allows organisations to register and protect the sender IDs used when sending out legitimate text messages.
It said 172 trusted sender IDs had been registered to date.
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “We would urge consumers to be on their guard against criminals exploiting the COVID-19 outbreak to commit fraud.
“Always follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and avoid clicking on links in any unsolicited text messages in case it’s a scam.
“Remember you can report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.”
Dr Ian Levy, technical director at the National Cyber Security Centre, said of the initiative: “The UK government’s recent mass-text campaign on COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for such industry collaboration in order to protect consumers from these kind of scams.”
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