Businesses urged to make customer messages “scam-proof’”

The UK’s cyber security agency has issued new guidance on how businesses can improve their customer communications, following a rise in scams.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has asked companies to follow nine steps when contacting customers, including making messages simple and consistent, not asking for personal details and clearly publicising the company contact details.

The move comes as the rise in ecommerce has led to an increase in scam phone calls, emails and text messages, including fake parcel deliveries and scammers posing as high street banks.

The NCSC said cyber criminals often look to capitalise on current trends to trick people into sharing personal information. It hopes the new guidance will help customers more easily identify fraudulent communications.

The new steps also include advising businesses to use links “sparingly” and to provide a means for customers to contact them independently, as well as guidance on how to report scams.

Anyone who believes they have received a scam message can forward it to 7726 – the UK’s scam text reporting service.

“Most of us will have received a suspected dodgy text or call during the pandemic and we know these scams are getting more convincing,” NCSC technical director Dr Ian Levy, said.

READ MORE: Cybercriminals take advantage of pandemic store-closures to increase scams

“To counter this, we need legitimate customer text and telephone messages to be secure with clear signposts of authenticity that give confidence to customers.

“I’d urge any organisations that contact their customers via SMS or telephone to consult our new guidance and ensure they’re doing all they can to protect their customers from cyber crime and fraud.”

On the new tips, the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay commented: “Scammers are getting creative: copying messages and calls from major companies, faking parcel delivery texts or pretending to be our bank. It’s very easy to fall prey to these criminals.

“The government is determined to make the UK the safest place to live and work online and, through our National Cyber Strategy are strengthening laws and working across society to fight malicious online activity.

“But businesses must also play their part to stop these criminals from destroying their reputations and stealing customers’ money. I urge them to work with the National Cyber Security Centre to ensure the public can trust when they are being contacted.”

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