Don't be Fooled by Fake TV Licence Threats, Says Action Fraud

By Tom Pritchard on at

If you've ever lived at an address without a TV licence you'll know all about the letters that arrive in the post containing all sorts of threats about non-compliance. I saw in a red envelop once, because red is BAD, obviously. Well it seems to email phishers have figured out this is probably a great way to con people out of money, to the point where Action Fraud has put out a warning.

People are getting to wise to tales of altruistic Nigerian royalty, or fake HMRC demanding someone pay a £5,000 tax bill in iTunes gift cards. So they've moved onto something new in recent months, preying on people who think they've paid off their TV tax and insisting they need to pay again. I've had a few of these myself, but they all got filtered out by Gmail's spam filter.

According to Action Fraud the emails look quite different, but they all link back to the same website that asks for a bunch of personal information and financial details. It's assumed that once the information has been gathered the criminals behind the scam will for collecting money and general identity theft-based activities. Some people have even reported getting text messages with similar links.

Action Fraud has warned people not to click links or open any attachments contained in these emails, and not to hand over any information if they already have. Anyone who might have been duped should get in touch with their bank as soon as possible, and can report it to the Action Fraud helpline by calling 0300 123 2040. Meanwhile it's offered up the usual advice for spotting fake emails:

Never answer an unsolicited email from TV Licensing − the organisation will never email you, unprompted, to tell you that you’re entitled to a refund or ask for bank details/personal information.

Check the email contains your name – TV licensing will always include your name in any emails they send you.

Check the email subject line − anything along the lines of “Action required”, “Security Alert”, “System Upgrade”, “There is a secure message waiting for you”, and so on, should be treated as suspect.

Check the email address − does the email address look like one that TV Licensing use? For example donotreply@tvlicensing.co.uk. Look closely as often the address may be similar.

Check for a change in style − often the scammers will take the real emails and amend them. Look out for changes in the wording used, especially if it seems too casual or familiar.

Check for spelling and grammar − are there any spelling mistakes, missing full stops or other grammatical errors?

Check the links go to the TV Licensing website − hover over the links in the email to see their destination and check the web address carefully. If you are not sure, go directly to the TV Licensing website.

Don't use this as an excuse to not pay your TV Licence, though, I doubt that will hold up in court. [Trusted Reviews]