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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.


These are so obviously suspicious and I find checking the senders address is the quickest & easiest way to prove it’s a scam. The addresses always contain nonsensical multiple characters & numbers which, is a easy giveaway apart from other signs.

Recently I had an email in my inbox from somebody I did not know called “Marcus!?” He, (Marcus) was trying to extort money from anybody who could be easily sucked-in by the usage of words that he used! Such as, that my family were severely injured in a crash and could not afford the medical bills. Also I have had SMS claiming they were “EE” stating that they could not process that particular month’s bill and this all was a scam! Also a lot of these scams usually stem down from entering competitions, being involved with charities that deal with overseas missions or signing petitions that also deal with overseas dilemmas. Furthermore, charities claim that your details are never past onto third parties. But with charities strapped for cash these and benefactors now also feeling the “pinch” I think myself it is a foregone conclusion that they do play fast and lose with your personal details!

David Cookson says:
3 May 2020

I had one of the emails from:- Billing & (a strange email address ending -telenet.be?) on Mar 6 sent to one of my email addresses, the one given below. They must have obtained this from somewhere !
I reported it straightaway to Action Fraud who in turn passed it on to National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) . I had a letter back with a Report reference number, thanking me for the information I’d provided.. It did say they would aim to provide an update within 28 days but, as yet, I not heard anymore from them.

loy johannson says:
12 May 2020

your post 3 may fraud say 28 days reply.be patient

Margaret Wilson says:
3 May 2020

I received an email from TV Licensing which looked very convincing. It even had links to “TV email scams” and to TV Licensing Security.
It was addressed to Mr/Mrs followed by my email address. I had to click to buy my new license. These are very dangerous emails particularly for vulnerable people. It has been forwarded to report@phishing.gov.uk

Mr jason hay says:
5 May 2020

I have just had a new scam @mail sent to me. And its far more realistic looking then the four you have listed. It would be my pleasure to forward it to you if you want to see it !?

Yes please! You can send this our way at conversation.comments@which.co.uk.

How about putting this link in the Convo introduction, Jon.

Gareth says:
5 May 2020

Anyone official who needs to contact you will not do so by email. That’s the quickest way to spot these.

They may be obvious to many people, but to some they are not, and can be alarming. The best thing is to not believe any email at all. If the government or TV licence or anyone else really NEED to get you, they will write a letter.

Dawn says:
5 May 2020

Received another suspicious email from TV Licensing today.
Addressed to me using my email and not my name, incorrect licence number and incorrect payment method. Forwarded to report@phishing.gov.uk

Sabine says:
6 May 2020

I’ve received a TV licensing scam too but since I’m on direct debit and I’d received my confirmation I knew straight away it was a scam.
Also somehow it was an email from “Me” to “Me” (how do they do that?)
It was also the wrong licence number.
And it said Dear followed by my email address.

I forwarded it to TV Licensing who confirmed it was a scam and that police is being informed too.

Rob Griffiths says:
6 May 2020

I’ve just had a very good one which even though I’m in IT had difficulty determining that it was actually fraudulent.

I always check the from email address but this one just shows as a TV licensing contact no actual email when expanded.

If it wasn’t for the fact I pay monthly and it was addressed to my email address not my name I could have fallen for it.

These get more sophisticated by the day.

Please beware and don’t respond to any emails but go to the contacts actual website page and contact them via this to check first.

Mike says:
7 May 2020

I had an email to that looked super legit but had in the body of the email

“Please destroy it and contact TV Licensing at tvlicensing.co.uk/contactus”

Referring to an email and using the word destroy rather than delete raised suspicion so that’s how I knew but otherwise very sophisticated

John says:
7 May 2020

No exaggeration but I have received 5 in total up to today (Thursday) this week alone. I find them very annoying. Clearly scams. I just wish I could reply directly to them to give them a piece of my mind! Also, I live in Spain so I do not require a BBCTV licence !

Tom says:
9 May 2020

We have just received one of these scam tv licence emails. The number of scam emails we are receiving has recently gone up since the lockdown, one scam mail was particularly nasty. Could this rise in scams be connected with the myriad video conferencing sites we have recently joined, such as zoom, jitsi, houseparty and whatsapp, i’ll bet it is, we rarely got them before.

Hammond says:
12 May 2020

They rather gave themselves away by spelling licence in the English and American way in consecutive sentences!

Debra says:
21 May 2020

Plus, the tv licensing agency wont have your email address. Ive never been asked for it..they dont need it, tbey have your postal address, your sort code and account number. Thats all they need. So if its an email, its a scam.

Phil says:
21 May 2020

Not necessarily. You can opt to do it all online in which case you will get an e-mail reminder and the licence is e-mailed to you as well.

The reminder looks totally different to the one above and also comes two weeks before the licence expires.

Chris Clegg says:
24 May 2020

I have received many tv licence scam emails over the past year or so but the latest was a bit different. The email address given as the contact was my own together with the profile picture!! I normally block and report but on this occasion deleted just in case, as I didn’t want to compromise my own account. How do they do that?

Chris, if your profile picture appears in a public facing role on social media or if it accompanies outgoing messages that you send, it will be relatively easy for scammers to steal it.

In general, there is not much point in having a profile picture that is kept private.

Chris Clegg says:
25 May 2020

Thanks Derek, fortunately the profile picture is of our late Labrador. What really baffled me was that the senders email address appeared as my own, that’s why I deleted it without blocking in case it locked me out of my own account??

Chris, many current anti spam and anti malware systems only allow incoming emails from known safe addresses.

Spoofing your own email will be one way of bypassing such controls.

I get repeated TV Licence notifications and I am not even the registered person for our licence at home. Even more strangely the email address that appears as the senders email address, is mine and I cannot therefore block further email coming through as a result.

Can any suggest what I can do?

L.Watson says:
25 May 2020

Two emails within the last three months purporting to be from HMRC informing me I am due at wax refund.
Email from Amazon telling me a parcel ( supposedly ordered by me ) would arrive at Brighton on the Sunday. There was a box for cancel and refund.
An email today telling me payment for my television licence could not be collected due to a fault. I pay annually in a January so obviously another dodgy scam.

ST says:
27 May 2020

My father was duped by this email and subsequently targeted by scammer posing as bank fraud department. It was a very sophisticated scam using a cloned phone number to appear as if it was from the bank and the person posed as a genuine employee of the bank (checked on linkdIn) – and attempted to dupe by including details gleaned from the email.

Carol Eyden says:
1 June 2020

My phishing email about my TV Licence had the date written the American way. It’s just another pointer to what’s real and what isn’t. I checked where it had come from and it was a garbled jumble of letters and numbers. There is no reason why a direct debit wouldn’t be paid either if necessary. I checked about the free licences for the older people (I’m one) on their website the other day, and they have extended this until the last day of July now. Obviously the criminals haven’t caught up with that one yet!

Donna says:
5 June 2020

Today I received an email stating that my Payment to renew my TV licence failed. I have never given the TV licence authority my email address so can a scammer listen to my calls? On the same day I paid the bill by phone, that was when I received the message.