As the data collection process continues, fraudsters are tricking people by sending fake text messages. The Census Text Scam is reported by hundreds of people hence Trading Standards has issued a warning to beware of this scam.
As the world is facing a global pandemic, Census 2021 is happening online. This has placed the Census takers in a unique situation. Though it is the most convenient way to participate in Census but the data collected online is not less than a goldmine for scammers. As scams are becoming more common and efficient, the general public is at risk of identity theft. Resultantly, Government authorities are warning the citizens about the potential threats.
One of the common census scam that is recently being reported by the people is named as Census Text Scam. Here is how to identify and avoid this scam.
What Is Census Text Scam
Census Text Scam is just an addition to the list of text scams. Fraudsters are sending text messages to people, imitating as Census officials. In the text message, they warn the people for missing information on the Census form. It further directs the users to click on the attached link to provide the missing information and “avoid prosecution and £1,000 fine”.
After clicking on the link attached with the text message, people get directed to a suspicious website. On this fake website, people are provided with a form to be filled. After filling out the form the site asks the users to pay £1.25 by entering their card number.
Hundreds of people have been tricked as the fake website resembles more like the government’s official census page. This website is even having the logo of the Office for National Statistics. Only one way to spot this fake website is to check the website URL. It ends with .com, unlike all other government sites that end with .gov.
Here is another scam you should be aware about Eachnight Scam
Census Text Message Scam
As hundreds of people have already fell prey to the fraudsters, people have started creating awareness among their circles. Some users have taken it to social media platforms to create awareness about the scam.
Some influential social media accounts have also reported the Census Text Message Scam. A Twitter account run by an unnamed female barrister named “CrimeGirl” has also reported the scam along with the Screenshots of the text. She has also explained the ways to spot this scam.
How To Avoid Census Text Scam
While talking about this identity theft tactic, Senior Manager for Media & Communications at BBB Serving Mainland BC, Karla Laird said: “While this year’s online census process offers an easy, secure and convenient option to participate in this mandatory data collection, it could also be a goldmine for fraudsters if they connect with a census taker who is unaware of the signs of a scam. Individuals are at risk of identity theft if they unknowingly share information with the wrong person or on an unofficial website”.
Following are the ways, which can help you identify and avoid this scam.
- Census staff will contact you through an official email or you will receive a letter in the mail. It will contain official signatures on the envelope.
- Census staff will never contact you through text messages.
- Citizens should always use the official website to complete the questionnaire or get census information.
- Never click on the links received through anonymous recipients, it applies both for text messages and emails.
- The government will never threaten you with jail time or fines.
To get rid of such scams and to make others aware about it, you should report such frauds on 0300 123 2040. You can also use online fraud reporting tools provided by government websites.