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Coffeeann
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Dealing With Creepy SMS phishing - Advice?

Hi there,
 
I have a question about particularly creepy SMS phishing. here goes:
 
I have a work phone and a personal phone number. I have never received phishing to my work phone, however, I receive about one phishing text per 2-3 weeks on my personal phone (for the past 5 months).
 
My personal phone has not been shared with anyone besides family and in a few emails. I only got it last year.
 
My carrier is Virgin Mobile. And what makes this PARTICULARLY odd, is that the phishing SMS notifications are oddly specific to my situation. Firstly, they have mentioned about my Virgin Mobile needing to update details, being cancelled etc. (clearly knows it is with Virgin). Then they are phishing with 2 of the banks I have accounts with (and no other banks - just those). And then I receive one from the "UK government" mentioning about a support grant (and I'm a business owner).
 
So it is quite creepy. 
 
Is there any way to tell if Virgin had a data leak? If so, how can I find out about this and deal with this situation?
 
Thanks
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coenoby
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Re: Dealing With Creepy SMS phishing - Advice?


@Coffeeann wrote:
My carrier is Virgin Mobile. And what makes this PARTICULARLY odd, is that the phishing SMS notifications are oddly specific to my situation. Firstly, they have mentioned about my Virgin Mobile needing to update details, being cancelled etc. (clearly knows it is with Virgin).

When you moved to using Virgin Mobile did you port your existing number from your old provider or did you use the VM number the sim came with?

The reason I ask is that the 5 digit prefix (or prefixes)  allocated to each mobile provider are all publicly available from a number of sources. For example https://ukareacodes.org/codes/mobile/ 

Therefore if you are using a VM allocated number the sender of these messages can easily workout that the chances are it is a VM mobile.

However, if you ported the number from another provider, for example, Vodaphone, then it does suggest that the scammer has gained access to your personal information.

Phishing emails and texts rely on making you believe the sender knows more about you than they really do. For example, the one about the 'Support grant' is creepy because you are a business owner. But if the scammers really knew about you why did they send it to your personal phone number?

My advice would be that there is no point reporting it to Virgin, you need to report it here https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-phishing 

Coenoby

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Coffeeann
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Re: Dealing With Creepy SMS phishing - Advice?

Thanks for the response. To answer your question, I got my number straight from Virgin (for both phones). Secondly, I agree they're unlikely targeting me specifically as a business owner etc. so that's fine.
 
Considering the context, would you suggest I change my phone number? Or is there little point in doing so since the information they'll have on me is probably pretty minimal anywa
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coenoby
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Re: Dealing With Creepy SMS phishing - Advice?


@Coffeeann wrote:
Thanks for the response.

No problem.

As far as advice goes, I'm just a VM customer like yourself so all I can say is what I would do in your situation. Ultimately it's your decision.

Personally I would not change my number at this time. However, I would keep a wary eye on all unsolicited texts that you receive but it sounds as if you are doing that anyway.

Bear in mind that scammers can fake the number that their texts appear to come from to make the text seem more credible. For example, if the text warns you about fraudulent activity on your bank account don't assume it is genuine just because it appears to come from the bank. Contact the bank direct rather than replying to the text.

Personally I have only ever received a few scam texts mostly "you are due a refund on your car tax" type scams. However, I have received many, many scam emails that seemed more targeted to me.

Like you, I used to run my own company and over the years I received several scam emails related to VAT  or corporation tax payments that made me wonder how much the scammers knew about me.

I assumed that they got my name from the publicly available information on company directors and the email address I used at that time was available on line so it would not have been difficult to match those up.

It is a creepy feeling and you do need to be careful.

Finally, just a tip that you may find useful. If you ever need to make a call on your mobile to an organisation or individual but you do not want to reveal your number to them you can withhold it for that call.  When dialing them just add 141 at the beginning of their number and that call will come up as withheld on their caller display. That works for all networks including landlines by the way.

Stay safe.

Coenoby

 

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Coffeeann
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Re: Dealing With Creepy SMS phishing - Advice?

Thanks!

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