A new TV licence fee email scam has been doing the rounds recently, which was cause for the official TV Licensing body to issue a warning for Brits not to get caught out by the fraudsters.
TV Licence scams have been around since forever, unfortunately, but the scammers seem to be getting better and better at faking their “alerts” – therefore, you should watch out for some of the warning signs (see ahead).
These schemes have unfortunately been even more widespread this past year, with people relying on TV at home more than ever.
The TV Licence fee, which is used to fund the BBC, currently stands at £159/year. Anyone who watches the BBC live, or streams it via BBC iPlayer, has to pay it.
Furthermore, if you watch any live TV from any broadcaster (even an overseas one) – you also need to pay the fee (See our full guide on whether you need to pay the TV Licence fee or not).
People who don’t pay the TV licence fee risk prosection, a fine of up to £1,000, or in rare cases can even go to jail.
It’s important to remember that last year, there were TV Licence fee changes for the over-75s, as the government phased out subsidies the BBC was getting – and most need to pay it now, unless they are getting Pension Credit.
The New TV Licence Fee Email Scam
Earlier this week, TV Licensing – the only official body responsible for collecting the fee – took to social media to issue a warning regarding a new fraudulent e-mail that’s been received by many people in recent weeks.
As always, the fake e-mail pretends to be from TV Licensing, telling people their licence is due for renewal.
As is often the case with these types of e-mails, you’ll notice spelling mistakes in the text – but people who skim through might not notice those.
Once you click the link in the e-mail, however, you will most likely end up on a phishing site that pretends to be the official TV Licensing website, where you will be asked for your payment details.
When you enter those into the fake site, the fraudsters will then be able to use your payment card – or your personal details for identity theft.
📢Don't get caught out by this latest version of a scam email
If you receive a scam email please forward it to [email protected]
— TV Licensing (@tvlicensing) May 6, 2021
Other Brits who received this e-mail have also taken to social media to complain about it:
Just got this TV licence scam email 😅
Don't fall for this shit guys 🤙 pic.twitter.com/ib3vuN004U
— ℂ𝕒𝕞𝕓𝕖𝕣 𝔻𝕚𝕧𝕖𝕕 🍃 (@camberdived) May 6, 2021
We’ll never know how many received it and may have unknowingly given their details to fraudsters.
How To Spot TV Licence Email Scams
If you want to be sure whether the e-mail you received is genuine, TV Licensing offer a few tips and things to look out for:
1. Real TV Licence e-mails should only arrive from either [email protected] or [email protected] – but even then, don’t take it as a sure sign, since there are ways to spoof e-mail addresses. (If you pay with a TV Licence payment card, you might also receive e-mails from [email protected]).
2. Geniune e-mails from TV Licensing should include your real name (first name, surname or both) and part of your postcode. Fake e-mails might present your e-mail address as a form of identification – but obviously, they already have your e-mail, which is how they reached you in the first place.
3. Scam e-mails sometimes say you’re entitled to a refund or a discount. TV Licensing say they never initiate such e-mails, unless you have contacted them beforehand regarding a refund, and they are directly replying to your query.
4. Fake e-mails will often try to scare you into acting fast, saying you need to make an “urgent” payment. TV Licensing say they will only e-mail you if you have actually missed a payment.
5. Fraudsters don’t know your real TV Licence number, so their e-mail will therefore show you a fake number (in most cases). Go back to your past correspondence with TV Licensing and compare your real number with the one in the e-mail.
6. Look for grammar and spelling mistakes. Despite this being a lucrative business for scammers, they often won’t even bother to check their text (and are often based in foreign countries). Therefore, such mistakes are a very clear tell.
How To Safely Pay The TV Licence
The best tip I can give you, is to simply never follow links from the e-mail itself.
Even if the e-mail is genuinely from TV Licensing, there’s no need to follow any links in it – instead, make a habit of always going directly to:
On the official website, you can sign up for an account and check your payment status.
If you do get an e-mail and you’re not sure about the ‘warnings’ in it, simply go directly to the real site (again, without clicking links in the e-mail!), and check your status there.
If you need to, you can also pay via the TV Licence Phone Number: 0300 790 0368 for Direct Debit customers, or 0300 555 0286 for Payment Card customers.