Fraudsters are targeting Argos customers with fake text messages, offering discounts and refunds and luring them to click on links that appear to be the Argos website but, in fact, are malicious websites run by cyber criminals.
Such phishing messages have reportedly been sent to hundreds of Argos customers but both Argos as well as Action Fraud UK are working overtime to alert targeted customers about the fraud. This isn't the first time that customers of popular retailers have been targeted by phishing scams and the objective seem to be to steal their personal details as well as credit card numbers.
For instance, an Argos customer reported on Twitter that he received a text message that stated his Argos card had a refund of 170 from an overpayment and featured a link to a site where he could request a refund.
"These fake text messages purport to be from Argos and claim that you're owed a refund. Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information in case it's a scam. Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected email or text," said Action Fraud UK.
Repeated targeting of customers of major retailers
This isn't the first time that customers of popular retailers such as Argos, Tesco, John Lewis, Sainsbury's, Debenhams, or Apple have been targeted by fraudsters. Back in May, the Southwark Crown Court sentenced Grant West from Kent to ten years in prison for carrying out a phishing scam in 2015. West perpetrated a phishing scam masquerading as online takeaway service Just Eat, in an attempt to obtain the personal details of 165,000 people. Although no financial information was obtained, his actions cost the firm approximately £200,000.
West sent emails to hundreds of thousands of Just Eat customers and non-customers by impersonating Just Eat and asked them to respond to a survey and to fill in their personal and financial details in a form in exchange of ten-pound rewards.
A report from threat intelligence firm Domain Tools last year revealed that around 20 percent of UK shoppers were victims of phishing tactics, with a number of them being duped more than once.
A survey carried out by the firm in November revealed that the brands most likely to be targeted included Amazon (88%), Argos (46%) and Tesco (35%) and that 24% of their customers had their computers infected with viruses, 20% had their credit card details or personal information stolen, and another 8% lost money on deals that never existed.
Smartphones aren't more secure than computers
Commenting on the latest text message scam that targeted Argos customers, Stephen Burke, Founder & CEO of Cyber Risk Aware, said that this incident proves that mobile phones are not more secure compared to computers and 'smishing' continues to be a popular tactic used by fraudsters to devices, data, bank accounts and money.
"The issue here reinforces that people will blindly click on links if they believe it has come from a trusted resource. People are trusting, and criminals take advantage of this by preying on their emotions and having massive success, mainly due to people not querying messages. It’s important that they stop and think before clicking.
"To overcome this, companies must help employees raise awareness of this ever increasing threat so they can measure how susceptible their staff are to falling victim to these attacks. This then enables them to pinpoint who needs security awareness training and as a result, employees can become a highly effective network of human sensors who will protect themselves both in and out of the workplace," he added.