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Consumers urged to upgrade their scepticism as iPhone 13 scams loom

13 September 2021



Cifas and Mobile UK are warning consumers of the rise in social engineering attacks on mobile phone users ahead of the rumoured release of the latest iPhone later this month.

Attempts by criminals to impersonate genuine customers of phone companies and hijack their accounts have increased significantly in recent years. Facility takeover fraud, whereby an existing mobile phone account is taken over by a fraudster, has increased by 88% over the last three years in the telecommunications sector, with over 17,500 instances recorded in 2020.

To enable this crime, fraudsters use social engineering tactics to trick individuals out of their personal, banking and account details, often by impersonating mobile phone operators themselves and offering upgrades. By asking victims for their details to pass a fake security check, criminals will attempt to engineer enough information out of an individual to be able to successfully impersonate them with the mobile phone company. Once they do this, fraudsters use this access to place orders for the newest phones.

With rumours that Apple are to release the latest iPhone later this month, Cifas and Mobile UK are warning consumers of the risk of fraud as criminals prepare to launch their attacks.

To further enable this crime, guides teaching other criminals how to conduct this fraud are available for sale on the dark net, with some even going further and offering to conduct the fraud on behalf of others for a fee.

In addition to contacting victims over the phone, reports have also been received of criminals utilising other communications methods such as WhatsApp and social media platforms to impersonate mobile phone companies.

Members of the public are reminded to Take Five before parting with their personal and banking details. Scam texts can be forwarded to 7726, and phone numbers operating scam calls can be reported by texting ‘CALL’ to 7726 and following the prompts.

Commenting on the risk to consumers, Cifas’ Head of Fraud Intelligence, Amber Burridge, said, ‘Criminals are always quick to take advantage of new opportunities, and they’ll certainly be looking to cash in from the excitement of the iPhone release.

‘If you receive a call from someone purporting to be a mobile phone company offering you a new mobile phone or an upgrade, always be sceptical and challenge the caller. Never give away your personal details or a One Time Passcode if someone calls you unexpectedly. Don’t be afraid to hang up and call your mobile phone company back on a number you have researched yourself to ensure the offer is genuine.’

Gareth Elliott, Head of Policy and Communications at Mobile UK, said, 'Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods. As an industry, the mobile network operators and Mobile UK are committed to working to reduce the threat that fraudsters pose to the public. We urge customers to remain vigilant and to help us act by texting reports of nuisance SMS to 7726, and reporting suspicious calls.'

If you have given away your personal details and believe you are at risk of identity fraud, then consider a Cifas Protective Registration to protect yourself from identity fraud. For further information on how to protect yourself against mobile phone fraud, visit the Mobile UK website.


Notes to Editors

Cases of facility takeover fraud recorded by the telecommunications industry to the National Fraud Database

2017 2018 2019 2020
9,342 11,924 16,780 17,604



About Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s fraud prevention service. We lead the fight against fraud by sharing data, intelligence and learning. The organisations that collaborate with us are drawn from all sectors, operating in both the public and private sectors working together to stop fraud. A full list of our members can be found on our website.

Organisations that work with Cifas, contribute to and benefit from the UK’s largest databases of fraud risk data and intelligence. We are committed to the principle of collaboration, which connects and drives our community, and enables the sharing of:

Data - We enable the secure sharing of high quality, trusted data to fight fraud. Our databases are the most comprehensive and diverse sources of fraud risk data in the UK.

Intelligence - We provide research and dynamic intelligence that influences the threat picture and strengthens the response against fraud.

Learning - We are a leading provider of accredited education and trusted training.

About Mobile UK

Mobile UK is the trade association for the UK’s mobile network operators - EE, O2, Three and Vodafone. Mobile UK’s mission is to work with Government, regulators, civil society and others to harness the power of mobile to improve the lives of our customers and the prosperity of the UK as a whole.

For further information:

Matt Pearson, Press & PR Manager, Cifas
020 4551 7956 /

Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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