ActionFraud - National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre - Call 0300 123 2040

Public reminded to ‘mullet over’ when it comes to suspicious messages as phishing attempts soar

Action Fraud is urging the public to remain vigilant when it comes to suspicious messages.

What is phishing?

Phishing emails, text messages or phone calls (often called ‘smishing’ and ‘vishing’) contain an urgent call to action, which usually encourages the recipient to visit a website that is designed to steal your personal and financial information. This information can then be used by criminals to commit offences such as identity theft or fraud.

Criminals have become far better at making suspicious messages look like genuine communication from well-known and trusted organisations. Criminals will use correct spelling and grammar, official logos from a company’s website and sometimes, even personalise the emails with the recipient’s personal information, such as their name.

Protect yourself

Fake emails and text messages can be difficult to spot and criminals put in a lot of effort to make their communication look legitimate. To keep yourself safe, it’s important to take your time and not act too quickly. Criminals will often use threatening language in their scams, giving you a limited time to respond and claiming there will be negative consequences (like a fine, or your account being blocked) if you don’t. If the message contains a hyperlink, or attachment, don’t open it.

Be suspicious if you receive an email or text message that you’re not expecting. Often these kind of scams exploit current news stories, big events or specific times of year (like tax reporting) to appear more believable. Or, the message may be offering something desirable that is in short supply. This is in the hope you will respond quickly so as not to miss out on a good deal or opportunity.

Criminals also use a tactic called ‘spoofing’ to make their call, or text message, appear genuine by cloning the number or sender ID which the organisation uses. It’s important to remember if you’re contacted out the blue by someone purporting to be from a well-known organisation, asking for your personal or financial details, that this could be a scam. Do not respond and hang up the phone.

If you have any concerns, always contact the organisation directly to check if the communication is genuine before taking any action. Visit the official website by typing it directly into your browser, log into your account, or phone their advertised phone number. Don't use the links or contact details in the message you have been sent.

How to report

  • You can report suspicious emails you have received but not acted upon, by forwarding the original message to [email protected]
  • You can report suspicious texts you have received but not acted upon, by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
  • If you have provided personal or financial details as a result of a suspicious message, or lost money because of a scam, you should report it to Action Fraud at or by calling 0300 123 2040. If you live in Scotland, you should report to Police Scotland directly by calling 101.
  • For further information on how to protect yourself, visit

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