Three issues top tips for spotting and avoiding the latest mobile scams

Three issues top tips for spotting and avoiding the latest mobile scams

27th July 2018: Three is offering help and advice to its customers after a recent rise in mobile phone-based scams targeting people across the UK. The award-winning network has identified new tricks being employed by scammers to steal personal information from mobile phone users across all major mobile networks, including Smishing (SMS Phishing) and Wangiri (one ring and cut). As well as launching new technology that has successfully identified and blocked fraudulent messages, Three is proactively advising customers on the best way to avoid falling prey to the various scam calls and messages.


Smishing (short for SMS Phishing) is a growing trend whereby scammers attempt to trick people into divulging personal information via a text message. In recent months Three has spotted further sophisticated Smishing scams which asked customers to input their payment details onto copycat websites. Scammers are able to target mobile customers by using publicly available number ranges for each provider.

Whilst Three’s security team continue to monitor for suspicious activity and take the necessary actions to block content and contact at-risk customers, the mobile network is also offering the following proactive tips to help its customers:

  • Do not submit any personal details when requested to do so via text message
  • Delete any suspicious messages without opening links
  • If you have already entered your bank details after receiving a text message, contact your bank immediately and cancel your card while monitoring your account for unusual activity
  • Do not give out any personal information to anyone claiming to be calling from your bank on an unknown number. Always hang up, and call your bank direct to check if they need to speak to you
  • Contact Three if you think you may have received a smishing message – reporting any suspicious message to the free of charge number 7726


Wangiri (literally translated as ‘one ring and cut’ in Japanese, where it first originated) is a scam that involves a fraudster calling a mobile phone number at random, hanging up after one or two rings, and therefore encouraging the recipient to call the number back. These numbers are often from an automated system resulting in a dramatic increase in such calls and are usually internationally-based meaning a customer could receive a charge for returning the call.

Since identifying the scam Three has implemented a new intelligence system to proactively monitor and protect customers, successfully blocking millions of numbers known to be used for Wangiri and saving its customers hundreds of thousands of pounds. Three is alerting customers to take the following action if they receive an unexpected call from an unknown international number to avoid falling victim to the scam:

  • Do not answer the phone
  • Do not call the number back
  • Never share any personal information

Alex Ammoune, Lead Fraud Risk Specialist at Three, said: “Whilst we have seen an increase in Smishing and Wangiri activity this year, these fraudulent tactics are in no-way limited to the Three network. Fraudsters are an ongoing problem faced by all UK phone networks, but we hope that by sharing tips and guidance it may help prevent our customers falling victim.

“Protecting our customers from fraud and mobile scams remains a top priority and we continue to invest in new measures to help monitor and protect them. We want our customers to be free to have a fun and hassle-free mobile experience, but we also want to them remain vigilant and one step ahead of the scammers.”

Other fraud trends include:

Bank Fraud via Mobile Phones

Whilst ‘Smishing’ is one tactic deployed by fraudsters to commit bank fraud, there are other means too. Since May 2018, there has been a rise across all UK networks of bank fraud and in particular ‘port-out’ fraud which sees scammers contacting providers and requesting to change a mobile number to a new mobile network, before using it to empty victims bank accounts. Number porting is a genuine service offered by networks to allow customers to keep an existing mobile number and transfer it onto a new SIM when moving to a new network. As a particularly hard scam to monitor Three is encouraging anyone who receives a notification or message about a PAC Code or number swapping request that they did not initiate it themselves to immediately contact their network so they can terminate the number porting and protect their mobile phone accounts with passwords as an extra security measure.

SMS Spam and Nuisance Calls

As well as targeted scams Three is also working to alleviate SMS spam and nuisance calls for its customers. Three has a firewall in place that analyses incoming traffic and blocks suspect content. As customers report additional spam messages they are added to the system to prevent the same content being sent again. Suspect messages can be reported to Three free of charge by forwarding them to 7726 or 37726 while nuisance calls can also be reported to the same number by simply texting CALL and the number in question.

Taking security and customer care incredibly seriously, Three is employing an open approach to currently recognised scams and issues, in an attempt to protect and educate people on what to watch out for to ensure they don’t fall prey to fraud.

The network advises anyone unsure of how to react to a suspect message or call or who wants more information on how to protect against scammers to visit for more information.


Notes to Editors

Specific webpages and advice:

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