Faking Hermes and claiming to be Netflix

11 April 2024

Our spam filters are often good enough to reliably intercept phishing e-mails. But cybercriminals have long since found new ways of getting in touch with us: More and more people are getting text messages or WhatsApps that purport to come from companies like DHL or Netflix but are actually intended to siphon off sensitive data. But fear not, you can arm yourself against such attacks.


Your DHL package is on its way, but the customs fees haven’t yet been paid. Your Hermes parcel has arrived at the warehouse, but the address is incomplete. Your Netflix account has been temporarily suspended due to late payment: Ever larger numbers of fraudsters are trying to get their hands on sensitive data by sending out messages like these in the name of well-known companies.

The fake text almost always contains a link that leads to a fake website. Once on the site, you are encouraged to log in to the supposedly trusted provider so that the fraudsters can steal your password. Or you may be asked to enter other sensitive data, such as your name, address, bank details or credit card number. Alternatively, or additionally, clicking on the link may install malware on your phone which discreetly copies personal data and sends it to the cybercriminals.


Don’t let yourself be put under pressure

The criminals’ scam works like this: They speculate on the high level of probability that you are indeed expecting a package or have an account with Netflix. And they pile on the pressure to get you to click on the fatal link without thinking twice.

The best antidote is to remain sceptical and take your time to read and check every new message – even if the alleged sender is known to you. This is especially true for major problems that apparently need to be solved immediately. Reputable providers such as parcel delivery or streaming services will never ask for access data or credit card numbers via text or WhatsApp. It should also arouse your suspicion, for example, if you suddenly receive a text message from a company with whom all previous communication has been exclusively via e-mail. If you take the following tips to heart, you will protect yourself from this type of scam.




How to recognise fake texts

Fake text messages very often contain spelling mistakes and dubious grammar. For example, they may come without full stops or commas and are often not too bothered about the use of capital letters. In some cases, different fonts or formatting are also used – either out of carelessness, because the cybercriminals are not native speakers, or to sneak the messages past your spam filter. In other words, on closer inspection, these messages seem much less official than they appeared at first glance.


How to protect yourself from fraudulent texts

Your safest bet is always not to reply or click on anything! Instead, you should always refer to the website or app of the logistics provider concerned to check the shipping status of any parcel you may be expecting. The same goes for notifications from streaming services: If there is actually a billing problem, you will be informed when you log in to your account as usual. If possible, the Lower Saxony State Office of Criminal Investigation recommends setting up two-factor authentication. In this way, fraudsters cannot access your account or max out your credit card even if they have your password.


What to do if you have replied to a fake message?

Anyone who has fallen for a scam should immediately change their password with the affected provider. If payment information has been disclosed, your bank must be informed and, if necessary, your credit card blocked. It’s also a good idea to report the incident to the local police or the responsible online watchdog. Once you have clicked on a link, you should reset your smartphone to its factory settings to remove malware.