Royal Mail scam text: what is the shipping fee scam - and how can you tell a fake message from a real one?

Victims are being told by fraudsters that they have a fee to pay before their package can be delivered

Friday, 7th May 2021, 5:15 pm

A Royal Mail delivery scam is targeting households across the UK to trick victims into giving out payment details.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has alerted shoppers to a text message which appears to be from Royal Mail but is actually sent by fraudsters.

People have been sent a message claiming their parcel is awaiting delivery but a “shipping fee” must be paid first.

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People have been sent a message from 'Royal Mail' claiming their parcel is awaiting delivery but a fee must be paid (Getty Images)

The scam has now been circulating for months, with many people taking to social media to share that they have received it.

So, what is the Royal Mail text scam, how can you spot it - and are there any more fraudulent messages to be aware of?

Here is everything you need to know.

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What is the Royal Mail text scam?

Unsuspecting shoppers have been receiving a text message which appears to be from Royal Mail.

The message arrives out of the blue and claims a parcel is waiting for delivery but a shipping fee needs to be paid first.

It asks the recipient to click on a link to pay the small amount, which is often £1.99 or £2.99.

The URL takes people to a fraudulent website which asks for personal and payment details.

If victims give over this personal information, it could then be used by scammers for further fraudulent activity.

The CTSI has warned that the messages are not from Royal Mail.

Reports of these delivery scams have surged over the past year during the coronavirus pandemic, the CTSI said, as people turn to online shopping while shops are closed.

"This delivery scam is yet another example of fraudsters attempting to make money out of the unsuspecting public,” said Katherine Hart from the CTSI.

“Due to the lockdowns, many millions of people rely on product deliveries, so scammers have focussed their efforts on this theme.

“If you have any suspicions, contact Royal Mail to verify before you click any links or share details.”

How can you spot it?

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said the postal service would only ever ask for payment via a text message if a parcel had been sent to them from an international destination and a customs payment was due.

But in such cases, a grey card would also be left telling customers that they have to pay a fee before the item can be delivered.

“Royal Mail works hard to prevent and detect fraud. We work with UK law enforcement agencies, Trading Standards and other organisations to share information and support robust proactive action against scams,” the spokesperson added.

Royal Mail has also released guidance explaining how shoppers can tell a fake text or email from a real one.

Its first instruction is to check at the top, as fraudsters often use subjects or greetings that are impersonal and general, such as: “Attention Royal Mail Customer”.

A forged email address may also be used, like “[email protected]”.

Even if it includes the Royal Mail logo, it does not guarantee that the email has come from the official company.

The Royal Mail website gives out the following advice for spotting scams:

- Royal Mail will never send an email asking for credit card numbers or other personal or confidential information.

- Royal Mail will never ask customers to enter information on a page that isn’t part of the Royal Mail website.

- Royal Mail will never include attachments unless the email was solicited by a customer e.g. a customer has contacted Royal Mail with an enquiry or has signed up for updates from Royal Mail.

- Royal Mail does not receive a person’s email address as part of any home shopping experience.

The CTSI is encouraging anyone who receives a fraudulent text message or email to report it to the police’s Action Fraud service.

Are there any other Royal Mail scams to look out for?

A similar Royal Mail delivery scam taking place over email was flagged by Action Fraud during lockdown.

The service revealed that they had received 1,700 reports about the fake email, which claims a parcel has been undelivered.

The message warns the recipient that if they don’t opt for redelivery their package will be returned to the sender.

Customers are then directed to a link which asks them to fill out an information form including their card number, security code, sort code, account number and mother’s maiden name.

Royal Mail also has a page detailing which current email, text and Facebook message scams people should be aware of and what they look like.

That includes an email with the subject line: “Your package could not be delivered on 07/12/2020 (the date will change)” and a text message stating that a package needs to be rescheduled.