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How to spot and avoid TV licence refund scams

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Most people have heard of scammers pretending to be from your bankPayPal, or the DVLA – but a lesser known scam, that can part you with your hard-earned cash, is the TV licence refund scam.

Scammers will try any way possible to get a hold of your money, even if it means imitating TV Licensing and claiming that you’re due a refund that doesn’t exist.

Here’s how to spot this scam email and what to do if you’ve been the victim of a scam. 

What does a TV Licensing scam email look like?

The most common form of this scam is an email claiming that you are due a refund and that you need to enter personal information and bank details in order to claim it.

A link is then provided in the email which, if clicked, takes you to what you think is the TV Licensing website. It is however a fake version of the site set up by scammers. By entering your bank details, you are in fact directly giving scammers the green light to steal your cash.

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How do I know if the email is genuine?

TV Licensing say that they will never email you saying you are due a refund nor will they ask you to pay for any additional services or to pay for changing your address.

Check the email address

A tell-tale sign is the sender’s address, if it looks odd with random characters and letters then chances are it’s fake. TV Licensing themselves say that they “will almost always use one of the following email addresses”:

Check the subject line

Email subject lines from a scam usually try to create a sense of urgency or contain an instruction – both are there to make you click because you want to find out more.

Advice from TV Licensing says any subject line that contains: ‘Action required’, 'Security Alert', 'System Upgrade' or 'There is a secure message waiting for you' should be treated with caution and raise suspicion.

If in doubt always check

If there are no obvious signs that the email address is fake, no typos or grammatical errors, then it’s always best to check by going direct to TV Licensing website.

You can also search online the email subject line or email address to see if others have reported this as a scam before.

How to report a TV licence scam

If you’ve been the victim of a scam and have sent any money or entered any bank details, the first thing to do is stop the payment straight away. Get in contact with your bank and stop any Direct Debits if they’ve been set up.

However, if you’ve not entered any personal details then follow these steps to report the email:

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How to prevent being scammed in the future

There are a few measures you can take to help protect yourself from future scams, so should you receive a scam email in the future you know when alarm bells should start to ring.

  1. If you receive an email saying there is a problem with your online account then go to that website directly and log in to check.
  2. If the email is creating urgency by saying if you don’t update your password now, then your account will close, then again go to that website directly or call their customer services/contact on social media to check.
  3. Don’t click on any attachments from any unknown sources or reply to the email.
  4. Make sure you have any spam filters turned on through your email provider, most will automatically put emails from unknown sources into junk/spam folders.
  5. Add the email addresses of any suspicious emails to your block sender lists, you won’t then get an email from that address again.
  6. Make sure you also have virus protection software up-to-date and create strong passwords that are different from each other for various sites; also update regularly.

Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is. If a company is promising a refund as long as you click on a link to enter your bank details, then think – would a company out of the blue offer me free money?

Scammers rely on people acting in a hurry because their ‘account is going to close’ or 'there’s been unusual activity, act now' – they are all scare tactics to scam you out of your money. Don’t be their next victim.

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