/ Technology

Have you received the latest ‘Apple’ scam text?

Unwanted texts can be annoying, but ones that try to steal your personal information or bank details by pretending to be from a familiar source, such as the latest ‘Apple’ scam text, are downright frightening.

Over the past few months I’ve received some intriguingly familiar texts from unknown numbers.

The latest message came on Boxing Day from a number purporting to be Apple.

It read: ‘Your Apple account for (my number here) is now locked. Complete the form below to restore access.’ It was accompanied by a bit.ly link.

Apple scam text

Fortunately, I am aware that Apple would never contact me this way and identifying the text message as suspicious, I didn’t click on the link.

But it’s likely that other recipients have – or have done with previous messages from ‘Apple’, such as the one last May informing users that their Apple ID was about to expire.

Other scam texts

But the message from ‘Apple’ wasn’t the only scam text I’ve received of late.

I received duplicate texts on 29 November and 16 December telling me that I might quality for Government Debt Help. Apparently, I could have 85% of my debt written off, and all charges and fees frozen. Excellent, no more student loan repayments!

And on 13 October, I got one saying I could be owed £510 for a delayed or cancelled flight. My flight in September was only delayed by 10 minutes, so that would be a very generous compensation payment!

Spotting a fake

All sound too good to be true? That’s because they are.

Today, we’re increasingly contacted via text from unknown numbers for routine appointment reminders, including the dentist, the hairdresser’s and the doctor.

As a result, sometimes we no longer question the authenticity of what we receive or find it more difficult to discern the genuine messages from the fake.

But there are still a few questions you should ask yourself when you receive a text from an unknown number to help separate the scammers from the secretaries:

1. Have you been contacted out of the blue?
2. Is the deal too good to be true?
3. Have you been asked to share personal details?
4. Have you been pressured to respond quickly?
5. Are the contact details vague?
6. Are there any grammatical or spelling mistakes?
7. Are you asked to keep it quiet?

It’s also worth asking yourself whether the link itself or the URL of the landing page you’re taken to when you click the link looks suspicious.

Sometimes it can be difficult to see the URL properly on your phone, so make sure you examine it properly if you clicked on this.

If you think you may have received a scam message from a brand you are familiar with, it’s worth checking their homepage to see if the domain name of the landing page matches that of the official site.

Have you received this latest scam text pretending to be from Apple? What did you do about it? Or have you received a familiar scam text message from an unfamiliar number? If so, who did it appear to be from?

Comments
Profile photo of Ian
Member

I hope you won’t mind if I point out that the headline is rather misleading. In the full header you do mention scam texts from ‘other well known brands’ but the headline implies that this is an Apple problem, which it clearly isn’t.

I appreciate the efforts made to show this isn’t about Apple at all, but many could infer that from the headline. Yes; I routinely get scam emails from Apple, HSBC, HMRC, Debenhams, Tesco and others, but I always examine the landing page in any links, and, frankly, never follow links in emails anyway.

Perhaps that’s what Which?’s approach should be: to pressure companies and institutions to stop using hyperlinks in emails or texts and to help educate consumers into ignoring links in emails and texts completely.

Member
Clem says:
7 January 2017

“… educate consumers into ignoring links in emails and texts completely.”

I agree absolutely.

Member
Tracy says:
7 January 2017

Just this week I received a text – supposedly from HMRC – saying I was due quite a nice rebate. As I have recently added my mobile to my HMRC details and had just this week received confirmation from my accountant that I was due a refund I initially thought it was real. However, when I saw the form they wanted me to complete I realised it was a scam – they asked for account details of my credit card etc. So easily done if the contact made happens to coincide with other ‘related’ activities. Continued reporting is the key to mass awareness of these scams.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

I suspect the contact is not entirely coincidental, Tracy, and that information does leak from inside HMRC. Inside knowledge must be the source of a lot of fraudulent activity and gives it added credibility.

Member

I thought I was forewarned about these scams , being devoted to Which?, but recently fell for one at two o’clock in the morning which purported to have come from Microsoft (I’d previously been unable to send off a legitimate email) and which demanded I change my email password, because they had “installed an upgrade”.
Luckily. I came to my senses two minutes later and immediately re-changed the password but even so, an illegal Paypal purchase had ALREADY been put through!
Luckily, both MS and Paypal were extremely and immediately helpful over the telephone and they did sort things out for me but, even so, I lost most of a night’s sleep and felt a complete idiot. If I hadn’t been able to locate their phone numbers and ring them instantly – within minutes – to report the problem, heaven knows how much money I might have lost. As it is I have needed to cancel the Paypal account, which I’m sorry about. Heaven knows how much trouble these scams must be costing, never mind honest consumers, honest businesses too. Meg Little.

Member
Maureen Read says:
7 January 2017

I recently had an email purporting to be from PayPal saying someone had accessed my account. They wanted my details including bank details. I phoned PayPal who told me it wasn’t from them. It looked genuine though and I can understand how someone would be taken in. I’ve passed the email on to their fraud department.

Profile photo of Ian
Member
Member
Jillleon says:
7 January 2017

I’ve had several scam emails over the last few months. Luckily I know they happen and do not engage, but several make me laugh. For example “my account at NatWest had been suspended so I needed to click to reactivate it” -I’ve not had an account with them for over 25 years. Similar for Santander – and I’ve never had an acc with them. But the best are the HMRC ones, of which I’ve had several, all offering me a tax refund for year ending March 15, with amounts varying from £700ish up to over £1,900ish. Considering my income has been below the tax threshold for over 10 years, the idea of HMRC offering me a refund is laughable.
But I can see how some people would be taken in.
My policy is never click on any link I don’t know, and if I think the email may be genuine, either ring to check or email direct from the company’s website.

Member
kel meyler says:
7 January 2017

I get regular emails from the so called likes of Paypal, Barclaycard etc fortunately I am now aware of them and pass them on to the official spoof email address of the companies concerned., one thing about Paypal they do confirm its a scam email once they have looked into it. The other problem is these nuisance phone calls pretending to be from Talktalk, Bt, Windows etc, at one point before Christmas I was getting around 5 a day, they would say there servers have picked up a problem with my computer or router or in the case of ‘Windows’ my operating system. I got so fed up with these calls I decided to take the ‘proverbial coloured water’ out of them, so I would answer keep them talking for ages as if I was going to comply with them, then finally say ‘I bet you are now going to ask me to start my computer and input certain information’ and I don’t know why but for some reason they would then just cut me off. I must say though since around the 22nd December to present have not had one phone call from them. I wonder is it to much to think these scammers have realised that people are now wise to their antics and have stopped, I don’t think so as I am sure they will come up with another scam trick.

Member

The one overriding factor to all these scam emails and phone calls is stay alert and suspect everything don’t just comply with them.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

And the second one is VPM01 – is get an email service that puts this type of email into the junk box-straight away , this is my big issue with BT who dont seem to have a virus control of its US email service -BT Mail , although Yandex (a Russian free service ) does . Saying that they must be listening to the Convo,s here as today the one I got was put into the junk box. I would like to add that all Which,s survey emails seem to be classed as junk, I have an idea why but will leave that to Which . On the issue of scams , i take it all regulars and posters know about the EU making it official that you have to be asked about cookies ,whether to accept them or not and on many websites a box/line of script appears asking you to accept them ? As you know I have a lot of apps +browsers and one I have lists all the the cookies on a separate box as I have it permanently displayed so that I can instantly see them and instantly delete them , I am also sure you know if you delete them you can lose access to many websites and or facilities-IE- if I permanently block BT cookies on another browser I cant access MY BT or BT Mail -fair enough they want to know who you are and do a bit of tracking but what you might not know is that those pop-up cookie info signs are not worth the “website they are posted on ” as it is all show as the cookies stay there anyway whether you click to accept them or not , and YES ! I have already proved that so its basically all show so that they APPEAR to conform to the regulations. Its not the fact they put cookies on ,everybody does so ( 90 % ) , its just the sly way of ignoring the the legislation. Hitting -not acceptable makes no difference otherwise I would be thrown off some websites I visit regularly and the cookies would disappear automatically from my list–they don’t. , the cookies are part of the control of access to many websites . Oh ! and by the way for any critics –YES ! I have already READ the EU Regulations on this and they are very straightforward.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Duncan – I cannot understand why Which? surveys are going into your junk folder. I presume you mean the Which? Connect ones? Mine all come through direct so perhaps you once marked one as junk and the computer applies that to every e-mail from the same address.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
Member

Remote content John- are parts of a message which are not included in the message itself but are downloaded from the Internet when you view the message itself .Its a privacy concern as it allows the sender to know– each time you view it–rough details about what app and what platform you are using –your location (IP address ) –that you are an “active user ” .Yes I know Which /or anybody would know if you visit the website the difference is it is targeted to you so they kow your email address is directly linkable to you –as per Spam which contains remote images so that when you activate the images it confirms the validity so letting the spammer know to keep on hitting you. If your email service/client doesnt do those prevention services think of changing it.

Profile photo of John Ward
Member

Thanks, Duncan. I get so little spam I don’t worry about it – I just mark it as a phishing scam and block the sender.

Member
Steve Cleworth says:
7 January 2017

Can appreciate the difficulty if you need to use several browsers/apps. Don’t have the app problem as no mob signal in this v hilly area. I just use firefox as my browser and have it set to accept cookies though not third party cookies and to dump all cookies apart from those I have excepted from this rule when I close the browser. Works for me as they say. Re phishing emails about a year ago changed from Talk talk as my isp with a long held tiscali email address. Try as I might I have been unable to wean all my friends and contacts off the old address which I can still access but it is noticeable that a huge flood of phishing emails now comes through this address as well. Talk Talk deliberately allowing stuff through to try to curtail this (to them) vistigial tail you think? Anyway using Outlook as my mailserver for my several email accounts right click and options allows me to see exactly what the source is as I’m sure you are all aware. Can be amusing to see some of the sources. Get too many to keep sending to various fraud depts. Will soon have to cut off the old Tiscali address and any friends/contacts who cannot get their software to update to my main gmail address. Cutting off the old address will sort all the phishing emails and a minor source of amusement.

Profile photo of alfa
Member

My most common spam text is to claim £nnnn waiting for me for the accident I had. I have not had an accident so don’t know where they have got any info from.

Member
Simon Lloyd says:
7 January 2017

I’ve had exactly the same text, along with a few others, but decided to click the link and fill out the form.
I haven’t received any further and no money has disappeared from my bank accounts, PayPal, iTunes or anywhere else including, not even the loose change scattered on the floor of my car.
Thing is, I wasn’t concerned about anyone having my mobile number – to which the message had obviously been sent – as it was undoubtedly sent to thousands of other random numbers, many of which will not have an iTunes account aligned anyway.
Oh, and the form was filled out with a fake email address and lots of Anglo-Saxon words, in the rather vain hope that someone might actually read it. Probably not the case but it was five minutes I had spare and if it made a scammer blush then so much the better.
This is most likely not recommended procedure but I had nothing better to do at the time.

Profile photo of Simon Lloyd
Member

I did that too.

Member
A bloke in the pub says:
8 January 2017

“This is most likely not recommended procedure but I had nothing better to do at the time.”

Whilst I understand your motivation, it is worth thinking that not all the scammers are rank amateurs. Some are very well organised criminal businesses who keep detailed statistical records, operate multiple scams, franchise opportunities, and carefully segment the market and target accordingly. By responding (even with what you think is rubbish) their systems can pick up that your number or email is active, and that you’re not easily hoodwinked. Likewise the systems may be able to pick up useful data like your phone or computer OS and version, possibly things like location.

Even knowing those few things may put you more at risk of more polished scams.

Member
bishbutp says:
8 January 2017

The joys of using the internet !! I treat all Emails with suspicion even the one I received from Which that after contacting Which by another way I was told it was genuine Read all Emails at least twice very carefully and look for things that might seem suspicious there are many always in suspicious Emails if they seem to be check them by using a different number or Email address to the one on the maybe suspicious email If in any doubt delete even though it might be a genuine one Play safe all the time

Member

Ask people have you received the Talktalk scam yet!

Member

Just a couple of days ago whilst on internet I had a porn pop up and then this pop up message saying that I have 12 hrs to pay to release my disabled safari, asked me to purchase iTunes card £200 and msg the code to a mobile no, if u didn’t they would report me to Metropolitan Police ( the federal police criminal office)
Now this shocked me as a 68yr pensioner but I’m savvy enough to know a scam, I had to get into the internet via Fb, minimise pages then delete, go to settings to delete brower history on safari then change my Apple password – phew !!!!

Profile photo of alfa
Member

Hi Jan, I do hope that is the end of the scam for you.

My father had something similar a few years ago probably after watching something on the internet that was supposedly free, and the messages got more and more frequent as he ignored them.

The scammers downloaded software that dated itself earlier than the actual installation date. It then installed the scam program with a current date. Deleting the scam program files didn’t work as the installer was that earlier dated file and just kept reinstalling the scam. Once I found and deleted it, his problems were over but it caused him a fair amount of distress.

I googled ‘scam pop up purchase itunes card £200’ and it is a known scam that Apple Support should be able to help you with if it becomes a problem.