Recent rise in targeted scam messages. How to stay safe…

8th January 2021

Even the most ‘tech-savvy’ of us can be made to feel foolish by an advanced, targeted scam message!

In November, many O2 and Tesco Mobile customers were hit with scam messages regarding apparent issues with payment processing and possible late fees. Whilst this particular message came from a typical UK mobile number, rather than O2’s usual unique numbers, the message itself was worryingly simple and even included what looked like a legitimate O2 web link.

Additionally, December saw consumers hit with PayPal phishing messages whether or not they had even ever used the service. Texts and emails stating the ‘accounts were limited’ were sent to thousands, whilst PayPal reminded customer’s of how to check if communications were legitimate using their handy online guidance.

Finally, and perhaps most topical of all, fraudulent messages are being sent regarding the recent Covid vaccination drive targeting vulnerable, and likely quite worried, recipients asking to confirm their identity using payment details on a fake NHS website. Due to the highly sensitive nature of this particular scam, British police and the NHS have issued statements confirming that at no stage of the vaccination will anyone be asked for payment details, and a warning to stay vigilant.

Scams like this can effect millions of users, and if by lucky chance it reaches you when you are busy or distracted these can easily catch people off-guard. Thankfully, some banks can spot fraudulent transactions, like in Kimberly Thornton’s case who almost lost £1,000, but as these scammers become more and more intelligent you may not be as lucky.

How to spot a fake message…

We wanted to put together a few handy tips to remind you what to do when you receive any text you weren’t expecting…

  • First – check the sender
    • Most organisations will have a name attributed to their number or email, but even these could be faked. If you are unsure, click on the name to see the number or email the message has come from.
  • If you don’t recognise the sender, or still have a suspicion – don’t click any links or images within the message.
  • To see if a message is legitimate, you should access your account with that company via your usual method. Log in and see if there are any notifications or messages within the genuine platform.
  • If you are still unsure, or want to double check, contact the proposed sender using a genuine method provided when you set-up your account or on their official website.

Further info for O2 users

  • For O2 specific queries, they want to help keep customers safe and have therefore set-up some helpful options –
  • Advice page:
  • Forward the text message, including phone number or company name, to 7726. It won’t cost you anything and it means O2 can investigate the sender
  • For suspicious emails claiming to be from O2, create a new email draft with ‘Phishing’ as the subject. Attach the suspicious email and send it to

For Challenger customers, there is an extra layer of protection in the form of our brilliant Account Management and Customer Support teams. If you ever receive a text, email or call that you aren’t sure about, just give us a ring and we can check the account for you. We have years of experience in dealing with account and contract management, so we know when something looks suspicious.