Beware of TV license fraud

There’s a new trend in the world of scam emails and if you’re not careful, you may find yourself falling prey to it.

According to Action Fraud, over a period of days there were over 100 reports of people receiving fake TV license refund emails. [1]

And what makes these emails so dangerous is that when you click on a link in the email, it takes you to a convincing looking website that is set up to allow fraudsters to steal your bank account details.

Action Fraud claims that the website is a clone of the TV licensing website and people are being lured there by fraudsters claiming they’re due an overpayment refund or that due to incorrect account details, a refund was not possible.

TV Licensing has now issued a warning to customers on its website and states that they will never email you to say you’re entitled to a refund or ask you to pay additional money for their services.[2]

However, unfortunately this isn’t the only fraud risk linked to TV licensing that has emerged over recent months and in early September, around 40,000 people who applied for a license between August 29th and September 5th 2018 were alerted to the fact that their transactions may not have been secure.[3] This is because a technical update to the website left customer information temporarily vulnerable.

Those customers who have been affected have been written to by TV Licensing, but their name, address, email, account number and sort code may now be at risk (debit and credit card transactions are not believed to have been affected). The good news is that there has been no evidence of a cyber attack and the issue has now been fixed.

Top tips to keep yourself safe from TV license fraud

Be on the lookout for fake emails

There are a few tell-tale signs an email from TV Licensing isn’t legitimate: –

  • Your name will always be included in any email TV licensing sends you, so if the email doesn’t have it in, chances are it’s a fake
  • Phrases like ‘action required’, ‘security alert’ and ‘system upgrade’ aren’t used by TV Licensing in their subject lines, so if you see them, be suspicious
  • Make sure the sender email address is one TV Licensing use
  • TV Licensing have a formal tone in their emails so if you receive one that doesn’t sound quite right, it may have come from a fraudster
  • Errors, such as spelling mistakes, are a common sign that an email may not be genuine
  • If you hover over a link in an email, you should be able to see if it looks right. If you’re not sure, go to the TV Licensing website
  • TV Licensing, like most organisations, will never ask you to provide bank details and personal information via email.

Check your credit report

Your credit report is a great way to monitor for ID theft and fraud. Even if a company hasn’t alerted you to the fact you may be at risk of fraud – because of a data breach, for example – it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on it to help you spot suspicious activity.

The two main areas to check are ‘Search history’ and ‘Financial account information’. In ‘Search history’ you’ll see all the searches run against your credit report. If you spot a name of an organisation that you haven’t applied for credit with or searched for a quotation with, it may be a sign of identity theft and fraud.  However, before you panic, check that it isn’t the name of a parent company of an organisation you expected to see a search from.

When looking at the ‘Financial account information’ section of your credit report, you should keep an eye out for accounts that you don’t recognise.

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Know what to do if you are a victim of fraud

There are four things that you absolutely must do if you have been a victim of identity theft and fraud.

  • Report it – contact Action Fraud and let them know what’s happened. You can do it online and they’ll give you a police crime reference number.
  • Let the account provider know – once you see the fraud, let the provider of the affected account know and they can stop any further spending on the account. They will also conduct a fraud investigation.
  • See if other accounts have been affected – if one of your accounts has been affected by fraud, there’s a chance others may have been to. Once again, your credit report may be able to help you here but you should also look at each individual account in detail separately.
  • Alert the 3 credit reference agencies – if you let TransUnion (formerly Callcredit), Experian and Equifax know you have been a victim of fraud, they will advise you of the different steps you can take.

To find out more about what you can do if you’re a victim of fraud, click here and to find more tips to help keep yourself safe from ID theft and fraud click here.

[1] https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/alert/fake-tv-licencing-refund-emails

[2] https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/faqs/FAQ288 

[3] https://www.yourmoney.com/household-bills/tv-licensing-customers-data-potentially-compromised/ and https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/beatthescammers/article-6156431/Website-glitch-leaves-40-000-households-risk-fraud-buying-aTV-licence.html