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Beware the resurgence of TV Licence scams

We’ve been shown as many as four different TV licence phishing emails in the last few weeks. Here’s exactly what they look like – have you received one?

We know that periods of uncertainty and distress can be a magnet for scammers – that’s why we had to issue a scam warning during the collapse of Thomas Cook.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, things couldn’t be more uncertain, so it’s no surprise to see fraudsters attempting to take advantage.

Kate Bevan has put together a comprehensive guide on how to spot and stop coronavirus fraud after the City of London Police reported a 400% increase in scams.

With many of us now at home looking for ways to stay entertained, perhaps we also shouldn’t be surprised to see scammers trying their luck with a tried and tested method; TV Licence phishing emails.

As of March last year, this type of scam had cost victims more than £830,000.

TV Licence scam examples

We’ve been sent four different examples of these fake emails in the last few weeks. Here’s what you need to watch out for:

Clearly some of these are better crafted than others, but the variety and frequency with which they’re being sent to people at such an uncertain time makes them dangerous.

Our phishing emails advice

As always, we’d urge everyone to always be on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of a scam email.

All of these examples are trying to rush you into clicking through to a fake website which will ask for your bank details.

Always double check the sender’s email address, the wording and the branding used. If an email has made you feel uneasy, go with your gut and contact the company it’s purporting to be from via its official channels.

If you think you may have been a victim of this scam, contact your bank immediately and let it know what’s happened.

Our guide also explains how you can get your money back after a scam.

Have you noticed an increase in phishing emails lately? If so, get in contact in the comments and let us know what you’ve seen.

Andrew says:
8 June 2020

Got phishing email about payment for tv licence today. Not the first iv’e had. I have not opened it as when I put the curser over the senders title for the email it came up with [a Hotmail email address]. obvious scam.

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove an email address. Please don’t post email addresses or other personal contact details regardless of whether they’re your own or others’. For more information see the Community guidelines]

Received same email yesterday and nearly fell for it as I had no idea when it expired. On opening the site I noticed the secruity lock sign along the address bar was unlocked and knew that would never be the case with the genuine site. Checked back to my original docuemnts and not until August so knew it was a scam. Thanks Which.

I now have 2 TV licence emails from different addresses, one in belgium and one in finland. The header for the email looks authentic, has my correct email address and a licence number (not sure if this is mine but cannot check from lockdown). The mails contain threats about sending in debt collectors! A bit extreme for a small licence fee I would have thought. However, these messages must be very worrying for many licence holders and must make them wary of the insistence on paperless licences. Given the number of these phishing emails, I feel Which? could rightly ask the UK TV licence body to send a circular emial to licence holders warning them. If the licence website has been hacked (if hackers have correct licence numbers) then the licence body should appologis for lax security.
Finally, I am very grateful to Which? for putting out this warning.

Had a TV licensing scam email today, stating my direct debit had not been actioned, with a link that led to a fake official website. Interestingly, just a couple of weeks ago, I had a letter in the post purporting to be from TV licensing, accusing me of illegal viewing and not responding to emails (both wrong). It demanded I buy a license or ‘further action’ would happen. I thought this letter could be a scam because I could not get through to speak to anyone on any numbers given, there was no postal address given or email address to make contact.
Well it seems that letter was genuine; no further action has happened and all I did after I received it was re-confirm that I did not need a license. (And received a confirmation of that). It seems that TV licensing are sending out threatening letters to anyone without a license in the hope of scaring those watching illegally into paying. When I eventually got through to speak to someone they were unable (or unwilling) to confirm whether the letter was genuine so I suspect that they are acting improperly but are denying doing so.

Cathy says:
27 June 2020

Hi I got this TV scam email today, headed:
Complete the application form | Pay for your TV Licence | 6/27/2020 6:33:58 p.m. | Review information | 01598251

I received TV licence the for the first which I ignored , again today I received a reminder and this time
I blocked it, so this scam is well and about.

Jonathan Paul Trigg says:
24 July 2020

I have just received a very cleverly crafted email ( with an authentic looking from email address as follows :

Information about your TVLicence
7/23/2020 7:00:24 p.m.
Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 8:00pm, Saturday: 8:30am – 4:00pm

TVLicensing Official
Dear [email]

Oops! Something went wrong with your payment.

We’re sorry to let you know that the TVLicence could not be automatically renewed.

Renew your licence before it expires on 25 July 2020 to remain legally licensed.

If you don’t keep up with your payments, we may be forced to cancel your licence or pass your details to a debt collection agency.

How to pay?

Making a payment is easy – just follow the steps below:

tvlicensing.co.uk/[person’s email address]/update

TV Licensing details
Exp date: 25/07/2020 0:00
TVL No: [redacted]
Time Remaining: (2) days
Ref: [redacted]
Number of Licenses: 1
Your Personal Details
Primary Email:
Registration: [redacted]
Payment Method
Credit Card: Visa/MasterCard
Yes claims bonus
Number of points 64
Reduction: %20
Yours sincerely.

TVL Digital Broadcast Service Team

we actually receive written tconfirmation ( and our paymwent is by quarterly direct debit ) so I wasm slightly wary . thanks for the information which has helped . not sure where I should report this ??

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove email addresses and other personal details which could be used to personally identify someone. Please don’t post personally identifiable details on Which? Conversation, as this is to protect users’ privacy. For more information see Community guidelines]

LagCam says:
13 August 2020

i received this phishing email about my tv license will be expired tomorrow. easy to spot as i don’t use DD for the payment and expiry date was not right. the weblink is very clearly wrong even with phrase of “TV licensing”.
here is the screen-shot of some content from the email:

Direct Debit Alert

Tomorrow is your last chance to remain licensed.

You won’t be covered if you let your licence expire.

As we couldn’t take the latest payment from your bank account, this amount will also need to be paid when you set up your new Direct Debit.

Your TV Licence details:

Licence number: 3721638803

Licence expiry date: 15 Aug 2020

You can view, download or print your licence on our website. Please keep a record of your licence number, as you’ll need this whenever you log in.
Set up your new direct debit

Be alert. Thanks,


The government has forewarned us of the demise of the TV licence. This is one positive move to eliminate a scamming opportunity.

There is now an ongoing debate over how the BBC should be funded in the future to cover the television, radio, internet, replay and worldwide services it currently provides. One interesting suggestion is that its funding should be incorporated in the council tax system.

Almost every household has a TV licence, the council tax is a more progressive form of taxation than the current licence fee which, proportionately, bears more heavily on the poorest members of society, the council tax regime comprises various reliefs and exemptions, and the banding system for council tax has a rough correspondence with the economic means of each household.

The reduced BBC service funded through council tax could include basic services such as TV news, weather, the ‘protected’ sporting events, royal and state occasions, and certain other programming, two radio channels, and a stripped-back internet service, everything else being commercialised in some form.

Any substantial alteration to the BBC’s services that opens them up to subscription of one type or another will depend on the full achievement of superfast broadband connections to every household. This is because Freeview, Freesat, and direct aerial reception are not equipped to allow deselection of channels and payment arrangements.

The government’s apparent intentions are that the licence fee will not exist from 2027 but there is not yet a date in sight by when superfast broadband will be available to all.

I see no reason to reduce in a significant way the BBC’s coverage. Nor do I see why a national service should be funded from local taxes. That would still, presumably, be a universal charge. Nor do I want to see everything going through the internet. What happens to portable tv and radio, for example? I’m not technically savvy about the options.

I wonder how many household, rather than individuals, would choose to ditch the BBC if an annual license fee were optional. If it were, how would it be enforced?