Britons are being deluged by plausible sounding texts demanding money for postage fees on phantom parcels. Being taken in can have serious consequences so what do you need to be aware of?

Due to the pandemic most of us have relied more heavily on online deliveries.  Post-Brexit custom changes have seen an increase in legitimate demands for extra fees from delivery abroad.  But in some cases these are fake.  For example, a text could arrive claiming to be from DHL or Hermes demanding a shipping fee and inviting you to click on a link to pay.  The text may warn you that the package will be returned to the sender if unpaid. If you click on the link you are invited to enter your bank details into a fake website. Your data can then be sold on to other criminals, or used as a basis for more elaborate scams, such as fake phone calls pretending to be from your bank.

Fake demands don’t just happen by text.  Another scam takes the form of an email purporting to be from the Post Office. Again, the victim is asked to click on a link to pay a fee to release items for delivery.   Although some courier firms have been charging extra fees, Royal Mail said that they would never request payment by email or text.  In cases where a customs fee is due, they would leave a card telling customers that there’s a fee to pay before they release the item.

The Money Advice Service acknowledges that scan messaging or ‘smishing’ can be difficult to spot. They recommend never clicking on links in text messages, but instead going to the legitimate company website and logging in as normal.

  • The National Cyber Security Centre advises the public to forward suspicious emails to

  • You can forward spam texts to your mobile phone operator at 7726; a free service that collates and blocks such numbers.

Andrew at Arcus advised “Never respond to texts you are unsure of as it lets the scammers know that the number is live.  If in doubt, delete.”