A THIRD of Brits have received a scam message in the past six months leaving their bank accounts vulnerable to fraudsters, according to new research.

Scammers target victims directly through their phones by sending messages on Whatsapp, Facebook and via text.

Alarmingly, 7 per cent of those surveys had lost personal data, money or both, according to the figures from Which?.

Typically, the messages aim to trick potential victims into clicking on links or calling a number to trick them into handing over their financial information.

Recently, fraudsters have become more sophisticated and are able to use "number spoofing" technology to disguise their number as an organisation, instead of the fraudulent number.

Sometimes, these messages are even displayed on an existing thread from the actual organisation.

After texts, Facebook Messenger was the most common method for messaging scams, with a sixth (16 per cent) of users having received a fraudulent message in the last six months.

This was followed by one in 10 Whatsapp users getting a scam message in the last six months.

The most common scam message claimed to be from HMRC - with more than four in 10 people who received a fraudulent message in the last six months receiving one.

A third of the messages claimed that the person it had been sent to had won a competition and a third of them were for an injury claim.

Just under a third of the messages were claiming to be from Paypal.

Which? is calling for more to be done by telecoms companies to try and stop fraudsters sending these types of messages.

They also want customers to be given stronger ways to verify any genuine business that is contacting them.

Adam French, Consumer Rights Editor said: "Firms must take action to introduce the systems needed to stop these messages reaching people’s devices.

"While we await action on this, it’s important that people remain as vigilant as possible. Stop and think about a message you receive before engaging in communication.

"The problem is still rife - any unexpected messages could well be a scam."

Natwest customers are being warned not to fall for fake emails claiming to be from the bank which trick you into handing over your personal details.

British Gas customers are being warned not to fall for fake emails that claim they are owed a refund because they're also from scammers.

Paypal users are being warned of a new email scam that installs a computer-crippling virus on your Windows PC.