Why you should report scam texts and how to do it (UK)

By Danny Franklin
April 18th, 2022

Today, I received a scam text. It isn’t out of the ordinary as this seems like a relatively common occurrence nowadays. I was surprised to find a lack of information on the best way to report scam texts. In the past, I already knew about reporting websites to Google’s Safe Browsing team, but how do you deal with the mobile number?

Using a free website, I was able to check which network the text message was sent from. I saw that the number came from EE, so I Tweeted them to tell them.

EE informed me that you can forward the text message to 7726. Which I had heard of before but I didn’t know how effective that would be – as you cannot “forward” (as one may expect) SMS messages. I wasn’t sure of how this process worked so I was able to Google it and found that you are fine to just copy and paste the contents of the message and send it to 7726. You then get an automated response from the service asking you to provide the mobile number. It was at this point that it made a lot more sense.

If you would like more information on this, I would suggest taking a look at the official Ofcom website where they have practical guides to this: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/scams/7726-reporting-scam-texts-and-calls

Google’s Safe Browsing

Google’s Safe Browsing team is able to handle reports of phishing and fraudulent websites. It is important to report it to Google because they provide an API that other companies and services use to check this data. For example, Safari will query websites you visit against Google’s Safe Browsing data (in a privacy preserving capacity). Safari is Apple’s web browser and has nothing to do with Google per se but you can see in that example just how widely it is used and how commonly it is adopted. To my knowledge, all major web browsers will query Google’s Safe Browsing data.

A "Deceptive Website Warning" page shown when a web browser using Google's Safe search detects a fraudulent website. Report scam texts.
An example of Google’s Safe Browsing prompt.

To report a website to Google’s Safe Browsing team, go to this website: https://safebrowsing.google.com/safebrowsing/report_phish/?hl=en

Why it matters to report scam texts

If you are here reading this, then maybe you are easily able to spot a scam, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can. Text messages received purporting to be from companies that you actually use can be quite convincing. If you report a scam texts, the number may lead to a conviction and reporting the website will stop others from being tricked into this. When Google’s Safe Browsing team has reviewed your query, if they decide it is a scam, this will cause triggers in different web browsers to tell the user that the website is fraudulent. This is very important for older and more vulnerable people who may not understand technology as well.

Both my grandmother and my great aunt use iPads and the internet. I like to think that by reporting these kinds of scams, I am helping to protect them and people just like them, who at times, often feel overwhelmed by these new technologies.

If you would like to read more articles from me, you can see more here: https://franklin.uk/articles/

© Danny Franklin 2017 - 2022